First look rehearsal images are released as this summer, acclaimed historical performance ensemble Figure return to London’s Opera Holland Park after the success of their fantastically detailed (The Guardian) 2022 performance of Handel’s Serse with a fresh staging of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Unbridled desire meets magic as Figure stages Shakespeare’s celebrated comedy, accompanied by Mendelssohn’s enchanting orchestral score.
Mischief-maker Puck will be played by T. S. Eliot Prize-winning poet and performer Joelle Taylor (BLUE NOW, Tate; UK Slam poetry champion), and Bottom will be played by Jay Mailer (Boiling Point, BBC; Emmerdale, ITV). Playing the role of fairy queen of the forest Titania is comedian and
actress Anna Leong Brophy (Shadow and Bone, Netflix; Last Tango in Halifax, BBC; Henry VI Part 1, RSC), and her King Oberon will be played by acclaimed British TV and movie actor Ray Fearon (Fleabag, BBC Three; Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, Warner Bros; Beauty and the Beast,
Walt Disney Studios; Macbeth, National Theatre Live), who is an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Figure’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream will star Eleanor Sutton (Wuthering Heights, Wise Children UK/US Tour; Amadeus, National Theatre) as Helena, Hannah Rose Caton (The Da Vinci Code, UK Tour; Last Knights, Lionsgate) as Hermia, Johan Munir (Into the Woods, Theatre Royal
Bath; Saving Grace, Riverside Studios) as Demetrius, and Emmanuel Olusanya (Phaedra, National Theatre) completes the set of lovers as Lysander.
The marvellous Mechanicals will be played by the following: Gail Sixsmith (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, RSC; The Winter’s Tale, RSC) as Quince, Jordan Laviniere (Wuthering Heights, Wise Children; Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, Apollo Theatre) as Flute, Susie Coutts
(Running Wild, Chichester Festival Theatre) as Snout, William Edden (Oliver, UK Tour; Les Misérables, Queens Theatre) as Snug, and Joyce Henderson (The Street of Crocodiles, Complicité; The Magic Flute, Complicité) rounding off the cast as Starveling.
Director Samuel Rayner comments, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is arguably Shakespeare’s most loved comedy but – like a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm – the aspects of the play that seem sweet and gentle conceal the diabolical perversity at its heart. Beneath the japes, Dream
explores patriarchal power and violence, restrictions on sexual freedom, and frequently questions our perception of reality.
The Athenian court is a world of rigidity but, in the woods, characters are liberated from the court’s rule; it is a space where desire reigns, where conscious and unconscious experience is probed and laid bare, and where the imagination (and the mechanicals’ creativity) – which is so
closely aligned with magic and love – abounds.
Our production’s fairy-tale aesthetic seeks to pose questions about our perception of reality. By using an interactive and malleable set design, where we repeatedly create and reimagine the space, we allow the surreal and the real to move side by side. The design also incorporates a 19th-century aesthetic, in sympathy with Felix Mendelssohn’s Romantic incidental music, which both accompanies and drives the drama in this production as we reunite this towering music with Shakespeare’s much-loved play.