A new and highly innovative adaptation of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is coming to the Kenton Theatre in Henley on 12 and 13 February. What makes this production different is that there are two versions of the play to choose from; the same actors play the same roles, but in dramatically different ways, on two consecutive nights. Audiences are invited to choose between the light comedy version on the first night, or the dark nightmare version on the second night – and a discounted ticket price is available for theatre enthusiasts who want to see both.
Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream holds a special place in the affections of theatre-goers, and the characters’ names seem familiar to all of us – Puck, Bottom, Titania, Demetrius, Oberon and Quince. Two of the cast were in Henley over Christmas to appear in Aladdin, the Kenton Theatre’s own professional pantomime – James Clifford (who plays Lysander) starred as Aladdin and Rochelle Parry (who plays Helena) was the Genie of the Lamp. Kristy Bruce (who plays Hermia) is recognisable from many TV shows, including BBC programmes Magic Grandad and The Demon Headmaster.
Both versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are set around the time of the First World War. The light version is set just before war breaks out, in a time of peace and prosperity, when the horrors of 1914-1918 seem unimaginable and Shakespeare’s fantasy woodland is a happy and magical place. The dark version is set at the height of the Great War when, in the dead of night, the dangerous woods play host to mourning spirits who have fallen before their time.
London Fringe company Immersion Theatre (nominated for two Off-West End awards) was started in 2010. Previous productions have included 5-star rated The Taming of the Shrew, award-winning Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, and several other classic plays directed by Immersion Theatre’s Artistic Director James Tobias.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins its UK tour on 4 February in London and is in Henley on February 12 (light version) and 13 (dark version – suitable for age 12+) at 7.45pm. For tickets go to www.kentontheatre.co.uk, or call (01491) 575698.