I’ve been feeling my way through Naomie Harris’ past work lately, researching for a future post on the actress (see my July 3rd “Before They Were Hollywood Stars” post on her appearance in the 2009 drama “‘Small Island'” here).
Today, I travel back to 2008 to another British drama – this one titled “Poppy Shakespeare,” in which Ms Harris starred as the titular Poppy Shakespeare, a new and worryingly sane patient who arrives at a North London psychiatric ward dressed up to the nines, insisting she’s not mentally ill.
Her story is told through the eyes of N, played by BAFTA-winning actress Anna Maxwell Martin, a 13-year veteran of the hospital and self-confessed ‘dribbler’ who severed links with the outside world many years ago, and has since made it her sole ambition never to be released.
An unlikely friendship blossoms between the 2 women, when N is charged with looking after Poppy. Although she cannot understand why Poppy is unhappy attending the ward, N agrees to help her make a break for freedom. To qualify for release the dynamic duo must first prove that Poppy isn’t crazy – but they quickly find themselves in a catch-22 situation: to prove she is sane she must pretend to be mad.
The drama/comedy was based on a book of the same name by Clare Allan. It successfully traveled the international film festival circuit in 2008 and 2009, including screening at the Seattle International Film Festival right here in the USA, and eventually aired on the UK’s Channel 4.
And now you can watch it too, and for free, thanks to Hulu.com. The online streaming platform is home to the 86-minute drama which is embedded below, so check it out: