A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Previewed 7 September 2013, Opened 17 September 2013, Closed 16 November 2013 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London

A major revival of William Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream starring Sheridan Smith as 'Titania' and David Walliams as 'Bottom' and directed by Michael Grandage.

"Lord, what fools these mortals be! In the woods near Athens runaway lovers, amateur actors and feuding fairies collide, propelling Shakespeare's masterpiece of romantic confusion and delirious comedy to a magical climax. "The course of true love never did run smooth."

A feast of magic, music, humour and spectacle, A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies. The boundaries between reality and imagination merge as the characters find themselves caught in a web of magic in the Athenian woods. The Dream is about love and marriage; and Shakespeare adroitly interweaves four distinct groups of characters - the court, the lovers,the mechanicals,and the fairies - in order to dramatise various aspects of lovers' experience. The wedding of the former adversaries Theseus and Hippolyta is the event towards which the stories of the four groups move, and which finally unites all four in the final scene.

The cast features Sheridan Smith as 'Titania' and David Walliams as 'Bottom' with Stefano Braschi as 'Demetrius', Pádraic Delaney as 'Oberon/Theseus', Susannah Fielding as 'Hermia', Gavin Fowler as 'Puck', Katherine Kingsley as 'Helena', Alex Large as 'Thisbe', Sam Swainsbury as 'Lysander', Stefan Adegbola, Rachel Barry, Jack Brown, Richard Dempsey, Henry Everett, Lorna Stuart, Sam Swainsbury, Craig Vye and Leo Wringer. The production is directed by Michael Grandage with designs by Christopher Oram, lighting by Paule Constable and music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham.

"Shakespeare's comedy of transformation, with its enchanted forest, mischievous fairies and love-inducing spells, can often seem like one big trip. So Michael Grandage's decision to turn Titania and her rowdy bunch of sprites into dope-smoking hippies, and to make 0beron's love potion into acid tabs is not so far-out. What's needed here, though, is more belief in the hedonism that's being evoked. Sheridan Smith is a delightfully blissed-out and roguishly saucy Titania... David Walliams' hapless Bottom actually seems more puckish than Puck. His Little Britain-ish, loud, lisping campery is hardly a stretch. But his imposing presence and knack for inviting his audience into the joke pay handsome dividends... Katherine Kingsley's jealous Helena and Susannah Fielding's feisty Hermia are excellent. Yet with Grandage's emphasis on fun, no one gets to mine the multilayered possibilities of the play." The Metro

"The latest in Michael Grandage's immensely enjoyable season at the Noël Coward Theatre this Midsummer Night's Dream is fast-paced, athletic, sexy and, above all, genuinely, blissfully funny. The four young lovers are terrific, especially the girls, who admittedly have the stronger roles... And then there's David Walliams. He's a strapping lad anyway, but his Bottom seems to take up the whole stage, and it's a wonderful sight to see. He plays the silly ass not so much as a rustic weaver but as a would-be amdram thespian, absurdly camp and domineering in his pink shirt and cravat... Sheridan Smith as Titania looks a bit like Tina Turner in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and although she always has star presence, the downside of this production is, alas, the fairies... The production in general is far too modern, self-conscious and urban refugee for the true mood of the Dream, whose language and poetry are so saturated in images from the English countryside that Shakespeare knew and understood so well... Despite its imperfections, this fast-paced midsummer night's sex comedy is still very, very funny for most of the time, and, yes, Walliams's Bottom is magnificent." The Sunday Times

"Some directors of Shakespeare's magical comedy go all out for enchantment. Michael Grandage's hugely enjoyable, sexy and sensual revival creates instead a hippy, dippy, deliciously twee-free night of revelry. Here in the free and easy 1960s love is a drug - literally for the flower--powered fairies who live like lost boys in a forest where every night is a rave. For the mortals, it's an all-toreal and painful passion that can cause havoc and make asses of anyone and everyone. At this production's centre is an irresistibly show-stealing, bouffant-haired David Walliams, who plays Bottom the weaver in a cravat and braces as a fruitily camp, lisping, Ayckbourn-esque member of the local am-dram troupe... Grandage's interpretation misses some of the magic and tempers the lyricism of this comedy a little, but the play's eroticism, so often neglected, is perfectly skewered." The Mail on Sunday

A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's most original, eloquent, and skilfully constructed works. Although he took hints from various written sources - from Chaucer's Knight's Tale and Plutarch's Lives for Theseus and Hippolyta, Ovid's Metamorphoses for Titania's name and for the mechanicals' play Pyramus and Thisbe, perhaps Apuleius' Golden Ass for Bottom's transformation - the basic narrative seems, unusually for Shakespeare, to have been his own invention. And although is is a comparatively early play, probably written around 1595, close to Romeo and Juliet, which seems to be parodied in the play scene, it is entirely confident in it's execution. Largely because of the subject matter and style,it has been suggested that the Dream might have been written for a celebration of an Elizabethan court marriage; but if so, it was also given at the public theatres, since the title-page of the first printed edition (1600) says specifically that it was "sundry times publicly acted... by the Lord Chamberlain's servants", the company to which Shakespeare belonged.

A Midsummer Night's Dream in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 7 September 2013, opened on 17 September 2013 and closed on 16 November 2013.


RSC's A Midsummer Night's Dream< 2009

Previewed 15 January 2009, Opened 20 January 2009, Closed 7 February 2009 at the Novello Theatre in London

The Royal Shakespeare Company present William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream in London directed by Gregory Doran.

A feast of magic, music, humour and spectacle, A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies. The boundaries between reality and imagination merge as the characters find themselves caught in a web of magic in the Athenian woods. Gregory Doran reprises his acclaimed 2005 Royal Shakespeare Theatre production (seen in London in 2006) of Shakespeare's best loved comedy with a reworked and recast version which marked his directorial debut in The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon this summer.

The cast includes David Ajala, Sam Alexander, Edward Bennett, Ricky Champ, Ewen Cummins, Robert Curtis, Tom Davey, Peter de Jersey, Joe Dixon, Kathryn Drysdale, Samuel Dutton, Ryan Gage, Mariah Gale, Mark Hadfield, Andrea Harris, Jim Hooper, Keith Osborn, Roderick Smith, Riann Steele, Zoe Thorne and Natalie Walter. Directed by Gregory Doran with designs by Fancis O'Connor, lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Paul Englishby, sound by Martin Slavin, movement/choreography by Michael Ashcroft, pupperty direction by Steve Tiplady with Rachel Leonard, fights by Terry King and aerial choreography by Gavin Marshall. Orignal production designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis.

The director of A Midsummer Night's Dream in London, Gregory Doran, said: "It will be a different production. It's a different company [to the 2005 production], with the exception of Joe Dixon who played Oberon last time and is now playing Bottom. I believe that actors always define what a play is. There are certain things I don't want to change, and there are some things I will change."

"This is the kind of production the RSC was created for nearly 50 years ago: driven by intelligence, deep feeling and a wild and sweet sense of humour; clearly and beautifully spoken, designed with daring imagination and directed with impeccable sensitivity for character, storytelling, the music of poetic speech and a sense of magic. One reason Gregory Doran is one of the great Shakespearians of his generation is that he is not afraid of magic, of the dreams and visions, playful or terrifying, that pulsate in so many of Shakespeare's plays... The mechanicals' play is exquisitely funny, and Bottom (Joe Dixon) is a masterpiece, innocent, hyperactive, touchingly vain - an actor too, perhaps." The Sunday Times

"Sometimes you wonder if certain Shakespeare plays are in danger of reaching critical mass. Do we really need yet another Dream? Still, while this tweaked revival of Gregory Doran's 2005 production sometimes feels over-directed, its psychological lucidity and visual magic still grips the imagination. Edward Bennett - such a heroic impromptu Hamlet before Christmas - is a more comfortable leading man here: his toffee-nosed Demetrius is a comic delight. Kathryn Drysdale's flighty Hermia and Natalie Walter's spirited, initially gawky Helena add to an intelligently delineated quartet of lovers whose internal relationships and the ease with which they succumb to cruelty and betrayal is a major strength... Doran's production may not be as transformative as it aspires to be but it contains not an ounce of sentiment." The London Metro

The Royal Shakespeare Company's A Midsummer Night's Dream previewed from 15 January 2009, opened on 20 January 2009 and closed on 7 February 2009


RSC A Midsummer Night's Dream 2006

Previewed 2 February 2006, Opened 7 February 2006, Closed 25 February 2006 at the Novello Theatre in London

The Royal Shakespeare Company present William Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream in London directed by RSC Associate Director Gregory Doran.

Young lovers defy authority and flee the court, only to find themselves caught in a web of illusion and magic in the Athenian woods.

The cast feaures Jonathan Slinger as 'Puck' and Malcolm Storry as 'Bottom' with Jamie Ballard, Peter Bankole, Alice Barclay, Paul Chahidi, Edward Clayton, Joe Dixon, Stewart W Fraser, Trystan Gravelle, Amanda Harris, Tom Hodgkins, Bettrys Jones, Sinead Keenan, Geoffrey Lumb, Chris McGill, Caitlin Mottram, Oscar Pearce, Miles Richardson, David Rogers, Bridgitta Roy and Patrick Waldron. Directed by Gregory Doran designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis, lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Paul Englishby, sound by Martin Slavin, puppetry directed by Steve Tiplady with Rachel Leonard for the Little Angel Theatre, movement/choreography by Michael Ashcroft and fights by Terry King. This production comes into London's West End following a season at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 2005.

"[Gregory Doran's] entertaining new production for the Royal Shakespeare Company opens, teasingly, with just a couple of notes of Mendelssohn before Theseus and Hippolyta, armoured and clashing to the sounds of battle, fall laughing into each other's arms, as the Anthenian duke's wins and woos the Amazon queen 'with my sword'. Text and context are treated with careful imagination... The perennial problem of portraying fairies is addressed by the successful use of puppets... The performers combine delightfully to convey the play's emphasis on the acts of watching and being watched." The Sunday Telegraph

"This is one of the two or three truly great productions of this great play I have ever seen. Gregory Doran directs it nimbly and wisely, with a sense of generosity, magic abd humour. The play always surprises you. It's about love and identity. If you love the right person, you open up, you become what you where meant to be. If it is the wrong love, you become someone you wouldn't recognise. Also, love arises from conflict: harmony comes from recognising each other's value... A masterly production" The Sunday Times

RSC A Midsummer Night's Dream in London at the Novello Theatre previewed from 2 February 2006, opened on 7 February 2006 and closed on 25 February 2006.


Propeller A Midsummer Night's Dream 2003

Previewed 7 August 2003, Opened 14 August 2003, Closed 8 November 2003 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London

The Propeller Theatre Company present an 'all-male' ensemble revival of William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream in London in a production directed by Edward Hall.

Feuding lovers and warring fairies play out their love entanglements on one very magical night. This mixture of comedy and romantic adventure, combined with some of his most enduring characters has ensured that A Midsummer Night's Dream remains one of Shakespeare's most popular and beloved plays.

Edward Hall (who recently directed Sean Bean in Macbeth) and the remarkable company Propeller whose 2001 Watermill production of Rose Rage: The Henry VI Plays in two parts won the national Barclays TMA award for Best Touring Production, are now back with this extraordinary all male, magical and bright new production. Acknowledged as one of the finest directors in the country of Shakespeare's plays, Edward Hall's high voltage and pacy productions are potent experiences which exploit the raw power of text. Described as 'exultantly theatrical' and 'explosive' his interpretations offer a vivid, fresh and visceral perspective on some of our most well known plays.

The ensemble all-male cast is directed by Edward Hall with designs by Michael Pavelka and lighting by Ben Ormerod. This production comes into London's West End following a run at the the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, Berkshire from February to March 2003.

"The play's sense of love as transformation and role-playing is filtered through a cumulative ensemble ethic. The actors all begin dressed in white vests and long johns, hugging each other in a circle as if what is to follow is going to be some kind of collective dream. The cast slip in and out of corsets, hats and frock coats as the play progresses while surrounded by umpire-like seats and suspended wooden chairs, suggesting that a phantom audience is always watching... The achievement of Hall's clear, well-spoken Dream is not only to capture its idea of love as confusion and enchantment but also to use the play as a celebration of the magic of performance. It becomes a funny, delightful, magical combination." The Times

"Just as it should be, Edward Hall's production is one of magic, shadows and laughter, and a gleeful sense of possibility. Working with an all-male cast, he renders the play fresh and - crucially - dreamlike all over again. I have not laughed so much, nor been so moved, in any other production. The male cast might sound gimmicky, but doesn't feel it: you forget about gender to ponder the play's central concerns, and drink-in its ravishing visual confidence... There are some astonishing performances. But the power of the production is as a whole, and very much in the details as much as the key scenes. This is a Dream put together by a magician. Watching it is like watching silvery glitter shimmer and fall through the air - light, sensual and rare, and totally compelling." The Guardian

"At the Watermill Theatre, Newbury, Edward Hall is presenting A Midsummer Night's Dream, with the all-male company known as Propeller which was last seen in Rose Rage, his compressed version of Henry VI. There is no attempt to disguise the actors' masculinity, and the idea of a drag version of the Dream might not seem immediately appealing. But there is drag and drag: on this occasion it is handled with a light touch, and blends into a general atmosphere of playful transformation. The whole emphasis is on fantasy, on performances within performances... Lines are firmly, clearly, meaningfully spoken: they seem to come across new-minted. You are beguiled by the interlocking actions, and happy when the conflicts are resolved." The Sunday Telegraph

"In Edward Hall's entertaining and eerie production - performed by his all-male touring troupe, Propeller - Shakespeare's young lovers are Victorian schoolboys. Their night of partner-swapping in the fairy wood seems like a collective, liberated dream: the cast appear in long-johns, hugging each other in a circle that suggests a sleepwalkers' rugby scrum... The standard of acting is uneven and, though the verse speaking is mostly excellent, some adopt screeching 'female' voices. Generally, the sexual chemistry remains low too... Michael Pavelka's set offers rough magic, with the forest spookily suggested by white chairs hanging at head level." The Independent on Sunday

A Midsummer Night's Dream in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previewed from 7 August 2003, opened on 14 August 2003 and closed on 8 November 2003.