Thursday, 7 January 2010

A dreamy start to the new year....

Here at the Octagon, we are set to welcome in the New Year with one of William Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s the next in a season of plays that has included the multi-award winning and totally wonderful All My Sons and the magical Oliver Twist, the best selling Octagon show of all time. If we combine the tension and emotion of All My Sons with the magic and wonder of Oliver Twist then I think we are onto a winner...

When two pairs of lovers take flight to the forest to escape the tyranny of Theseus’ regime, what follows is a night of utter magical confusion. A Midsummer Night’s Dream features some of Shakespeare’s best loved characters, including Bottom the weaver, who is transformed into an amorous donkey! This is a large-scale production for our little theatre, complete with live music, will be directed by David himself. When I caught up with him this is what he had to say about the play.

“No play like it had ever been written – and no play like it has been written since. Workmen, lovers, royalty and the fairy kingdom bumping into each other as they all try to deal with the problems, joys and delights of the force that holds so many of us in its unpredictable grip – LOVE. Like many of the productions of Shakespeare that I’ve most enjoyed directing, and have been most appreciated by audiences, I’ve decided to set this in a modern context – in this case, the late sixties. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a passionate, funny play that never fails to surprise me – and I hope our ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ will release its dynamic energy and reach the Octagon’s audience in ways that may surprise them too.”

David has a fine pedigree with the work of Shakespeare. During his time as Resident Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company and at the Young Vic in London he directed many of the country’s finest actors in Shakespeare productions, including Clive Owen, Natasha Richardson and Tom Wilkinson. His production of Pericles for the RSC won him the UK’s top theatre prize: an Olivier Award for Best Director.

The cast of fourteen includes one of the region’s best loved actors, Russell Dixon. His television credits include Coronation Street and Dalziel and Pascoe, and he starred as Rafe in the Octagon’s record-breaking production of Bill Naughton’s Spring and Port Wine in 2007. He is joined by Kiruna Stamell who recently appeared in Channel 4’s comedy drama Cast Offs, but is best known for her scene-stealing role in Baz Luhrmann’s smash-hit film Moulin Rouge. When I met her the other day, she told me she had read the blog (hi Kiruna). This production also sees a professional theatre debut for award-winning stand-up comedian Laurence Clark.

The rest of the cast has a youthful look including Vanessa Kirby, who returns to the Octagon following her acclaimed professional theatre debut in our recent productions of All My Sons. It was a performance which earned her the Biza Award for best up and coming actor, company or initiative at the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards 2009.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is at the Octagon from Thursday 4 February to Saturday 6 March 2010. Tickets are from £9 on 01204 520661, or can be bought online at

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