Olivier Award-winning director and RSC Associate Artist Laurence Boswell directs a brand new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Theatre Royal Bath from Thursday 4th to Saturday 20th August as the nation marks the 400th anniversary year of William Shakespeare’s death. Staged as part of Bath’s Summer Season, the Bard’s best-loved comedy will feature one of the UK’s most popular comedians and performers, Phill Jupitus as Nick Bottom, the Weaver.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream intertwines three stories set in the enchanted woods outside the city of Athens. As Theseus and Hippolyta prepare to marry, Hermia is ordered to wed Demetrius. When Hermia and Lysander elope to the woods, Helena, and Demetrius follow…
On the same night – in the same wood – the fairy king, Oberon, and his queen, Titania, are feuding, and Bottom, the Weaver and his band are rehearsing a play. But when Oberon and his accomplice, Puck, decide to meddle with the lovers, make mischief with the queen and make an ass of Bottom, they leave a trail of chaos and hilarity in their wake.
Filled with music and spectacle in a magical, mythical setting, this new staging also stars leading Royal Shakespeare Company actors and Associate Artists, Darrell D’Silva, Forbes Masson and Katy Stephens.
Phill Jupitus has recently played the roles of Baron Bomburst and Lord Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on UK tour, a production he returns to this autumn. His other stage credits include playing Edna Turnblad in Hairspray in the West End, King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot and, last year, Franz Liebkind in The Producers on tour. He has been a performance poet, stand-up comedian and radio presenter; he was a team captain on BBC2’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks for nineteen years appearing in 272 episodes, and a regular guest on QI on BBC2 and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue on BBC Radio 4. He has performed with the Blockheads, Madness and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and appeared in music videos with Billy Bragg and Kirsty MacColl. He now makes his Shakespearean debut playing Nick Bottom, the Weaver who’s ready to take on anything.
Darrell D’Silva, who plays Theseus and Oberon, is an Associate Artist of the RSC for whom his extensive credits include the roles of Captain Hook in Wendy and Peter, Antony in Antony and Cleopatra, and Siwan in Dunsinane, alongside Siobhan Redmond, for the RSC and the National Theatre of Scotland on world tour. His other theatre credits include The Rose Tattoo and Closer at the National Theatre, Public Enemy and Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Young Vic, Children’s Children at the Almeida and Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic.
Katy Stephens plays the roles of Hippolyta and Titania. An RSC Associate Artist, Katy’s many credits for the company include Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra alongside Darrell D’Silva, Rosalind in As You Like It, and Tamora, the Queen of the Goths, in Titus Andronicus. Her film and television credits include Relative Values and London’s Burning.
Playing the roles of Puck and Philostrate is Simon Gregor, whose previous appearances at the Theatre Royal include Gilbert in Things We Do for Love in 2014, the Fool in King Lear alongside David Haig in 2013, and Grumio in the RSC’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew, which toured to Bath in 2012. Amongst his numerous stage credits, he has starred in American Psycho with Matt Smith at the Almeida Theatre and in To Kill a Mockingbird at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. His television credits include Harry Price: Ghost Hunter, The Borgias, Da Vinci’s Demons, Ripper Street, New Tricks and Drop the Dead Donkey.
Forbes Masson plays Peter Quince and Egeus. On television he was Steve McCracken in The High Life and played Patrick in Catastrophe, as well as appearances in EastEnders, Shetland, Is It Bill Bailey?, Rab C. Nesbitt and Red Dwarf. His recent West End credits include Doctor Faustus and Mr Foote’s Other Leg. His many productions with the RSC include a residency in New York in Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It; as well as Ahasauerus, Morte d’ Arthur, A Tender Thing and The Grain Store.
William Postlethwaite returns to Bath to play Lysander, after starring with Gina McKee in The Mother at Bath’s Ustinov Studio last year, directed by Laurence Boswell, prior to the Tricycle Theatre. He also played Edgar in King Lear at the Theatre Royal in 2013 alongside Davig Haig. His theatre credits also include Collaborators at the National Theatre and Journey’s End at the Watermill Theatre. His television work includes Foyles’ War, Midsomer Murders and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.
Vinta Morgan appears at Thomas Snout. His theatre credits include The Merchant of Venice at the Almeida, Romeo and Juliet and Pedro the Great Pretender at the RSC, Tamburlaine the Great at Bristol Old Vic and the Barbican, and To Kill a Mockingbird for West Yorkshire Playhouse and Birmingham Rep. His television credits include Doctors, Silent Witness and EastEnders.
Oscar Batterham plays Frances Flute. His stage credits include The Wars of the Roses, directed by Trevor Nunn. He returns to Bath after performing in The One That Got Away at the Ustinov Studio last December, directed by Laurence Boswell. He recently starred in the world premiere of Neil Bartlett’s Stella in the Brighton Festival at the Theatre Royal.
Eve Ponsonby plays Hermia, Maya Wasowicz plays Helena and Wilf Scolding plays Demetrius. Gregory Gudgeon, who appears as Robin Starveling, performed in Monsieur Popular at Bath’s Ustinov Studio last autumn, and Ekow Quartey plays Snug. The cast is completed by Melissa James and Natalie Winsor.
Director Laurence Boswell said, “I have been working next door in the Ustinov Studio for the last five years, directing the UK premieres of international plays, which has been a joy and a gift and to which I will return after this production; but the opportunity to work on a Shakespeare play, on a big stage with a company of 15 actors, was too much to resist.”
Laurence Boswell has been the Artistic Director of Bath’s Ustinov Studio since 2011. He is an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, where his many credits include the Golden Age Season in 2004, which transferred to the West End and Madrid. Whilst at London’s Gate Theatre, where he was Associate Director (1991–93) and Artistic Director (1993–96), he directed the Spanish Golden Age Season, winner of the 1992 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement. In the West End, his credits include Popcorn, This is Our Youth, Treats and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, which transferred to Broadway receiving a Tony nomination. His writing credits include Beauty and the Beast for the RSC, winner of the TMA Award for Best Play for Children and Young People. He has also directed productions in America, Canada, Spain and Portugal.
Award-winning designer Jamie Vartan has worked extensively in theatre and opera in the UK and Europe. He represented the UK at Prague Quadrennials in 1999, 2007, 2011 and World Stage Design 2013, winning the Best Set Design Award. His set design for Misterman starring Cillian Murphy won the 2011 Irish Times Award for Best Set Design.
2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death in 1616. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first published in 1600, with its likeliest date of composition being 1595-6. As well as theatre performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream spanning four centuries, the drama has also been transformed into operas and ballets, including Benjamin Britten’s landmark 1960 composition, and Frederick Ashton’s 1964 ballet which premiered at Covent Garden and remains a popular choice in the repertoire. Screen adaptations include Max Reinhardt’s 1935 film with James Cagney as Bottom; Peter Hall’s 1969 film based on his 1962 RSC stage production; the 1981 BBC TV Shakespeare series by Elijah Mojinsky with Helen Mirren as Titania; Adrian Noble’s 1996 film based on his earlier stage version; and Michael Hoffman’s 1999 film set in Tuscany with Kevin Kline as Bottom.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Thursday 4th to Saturday 20th August. Tickets are on sale from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk
Theatre Royal Bath presents
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
By William Shakespeare, Directed by Laurence Boswell
Starring Phill Jupitus, Darrell D’Silva, Katy Stephens, Simon Gregor, Forbes Masson,
William Postlethwaite, Maya Wasowicz, Wilf Scolding, Eve Ponsonby, Vinta Morgan,
Oscar Batterham, Gregory Gudgeon, Ekow Quartey, Melissa James, Natalie Winsor
Dates: Thursday 4th to Saturday 20th August 2016
Venue: Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath, BA1 1ET
Performances: Evenings: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm – (Except Wed 10th August at 7pm)
Matinees: Thursday & Saturday at 2.30pm – (Except Thurs 4th August: no matinee)
Tickets: £15 – £34.50 with concessions available
Booking fee: £1 for transactions below £15 / £2.50 for transactions of £15 or over
Box Office: 01225 448844, www.theatreroyal.org.uk