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The magic of A Midsummer Night's Dream cast on Norwich theatre

PUBLISHED: 19:00 26 April 2016 | UPDATED: 19:00 26 April 2016

The Royal Shakespeare Company and local actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Norwich Theatre Royal. Owen Evans and Ayesha Dharker.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Royal Shakespeare Company and local actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Norwich Theatre Royal. Owen Evans and Ayesha Dharker. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

The magic of A Midsummer Night's Dream is being cast over Norwich Theatre Royal this week.

The Royal Shakespeare Company and local actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Norwich Theatre Royal. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Royal Shakespeare Company and local actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Royal Shakespeare Company has brought the comedy about love, enchantment and mischief-making to the city as part of its nationwide tour to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

And joining the professional actors on stage for A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation are members of Norwich theatre company The Common Lot and pupils from Sprowston Community High School.

The Common Lot actors are playing the Mechanicals, a group of craftsmen and hapless actors preparing a play to entertain royalty, and similarly in real-life the Norwich-based performers have been busy rehearsing for their big moment on stage.

Owen Evans, one half of the comedy duo The Nimmo Twins, will be playing the role of Bottom, the weaver who the fairy queen Titania falls in love with. He described it as “literally a dream come true” to be performing with the RSC.

The Royal Shakespeare Company and local actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Norwich Theatre Royal. Owen Evans.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Royal Shakespeare Company and local actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Norwich Theatre Royal. Owen Evans. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“Excitement is the main emotion at the moment for us [The Common Lot]. We have had a few waves of nerves but mostly we cannot believe what a wonderful opportunity it is for us all.”

About playing Bottom, he said: “It’s the one part that, if I had been able to choose, that would be the part I would want to play. He’s an outrageous character. He has got no sense of decorum or modesty but you cannot help but love him.”

And he added that he was also adding a Norfolk twist to the famous character.

“There’s a few “Norfolkisms” I have managed to wangle in there. It’s funny, Shakespeare’s language does lend itself to a regional accent,” he said.

The Royal Shakespeare Company and local actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Norwich Theatre Royal. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe Royal Shakespeare Company and local actors in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Norwich Theatre Royal. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Fellow The Common Lot actors joining Mr Evans on stage are Daniel Fridd (Flute, the Bellows Mender), Amelia Hursey (Quince, the Carpenter), Eve Pandolfi (Snug, the Joiner), Victoria Stone (Snout, the Tinker) and Emma Trindall (Starveling, the Tailor), and Simon Floyd has been directing them in local rehearsals. About 30 Sprowston Community High School pupils are also taking on the role of Queen Titania’s Fairy Train, with about 10 pupils performing in each performance.

Ayesha Dharker, the RSC actress playing Titania, said it was an “incredible experience” touring the show and having a different amateur company and school join the production at each location, and she had high praise for both The Common Lot and the Sprowston pupils.

Sophie Ivatts, associate director for the show, added: “They [The Common Lot] are really fabulous and what has struck me is that they are really proud to be from Norwich and Norfolk. There is a very clear local connection in the performance - Owen, who plays Bottom, is using a Norfolk accent which we thought was very nice to honour the fact the show is in Norfolk.

“Sprowston Community High School has also been a really stand-out school. It’s hard to praise them enough in terms of their commitment and excitement for the project.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation opens tonight and runs until Saturday. Visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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