Everyman & Playhouse associate director Nick Bagnall (pictured) will direct his first play for the company this spring with a dark, contemporary telling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Ev, a year on from its grand reopening. Bagnall’s previous interpretations of Shakespeare include the Henry VI trilogy for Shakespeare’s Globe, which also toured to battlefields around the country.
The cast features rising West End star Cynthia Erivo as Puck and Dean Nolan as Bottom; Liverpool’s own Andrew Schofield, who returns to the Everyman stage for the first time in ten years; Young Everyman Playhouse graduate Lewis Bray, whose Cartoonopolis, a devised work about how his family lives with his younger brother’s autism, recently sold out its run at the Playhouse Studio; and Ev regular Alan Stocks.
The production runs from March 21 to April 18.
Cynthia starred as Celie in The Colour Purple at Menier Chocolate Factory and will reprise the role on Broadway later this year. Her other acting credits include the all-female production of Henry IV at Donmar Warehouse and I Can’t Sing! – and she has been seen in Liverpool on the Empire stage playing the lead in Sister Act. Dean recently appeared in ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Knight of the Burning Pestle at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and in Steptoe and Son for Kneehigh. Andrew was last at the Everyman in On Tour in 2005. A favourite of Liverpool audiences, he has a long history with both theatres, including No Holds Barred and Dr Faustus at the Everyman and Blood on the Dole and Flint Street Nativity at the Playhouse.
In the play, the autocratic Athenian world of order and manners is brought crashing down when four mismatched lovers stumble into the murky woods, where balaclava-clad fairies cause chaos and delusions. According to the Everyman, “a riot of mischief and wonder, circus and vaudeville create transformation everywhere and, as walls and traditions come crashing down, a ragged company of labourers deliver a play fit for dreamers”.
Nick Bagnall joined the Everyman & Playhouse last year following the success of The Last Days of Troy at Shakespeare’s Globe and Britannia Waves the Rules at Royal Exchange, Manchester. His other directing credits include Betrayal (Sheffield Crucible), Billy Liar (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and Entertaining Mr Sloane (Trafalgar Studios).
He said: “I am thrilled to be directing this extraordinary ensemble of actors in the most beautiful of Shakespeare’s plays as my first show as Associate here at the Everyman and Playhouse. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a play that evokes mischief, mayhem, joy and anarchy. All the vital ingredients that the Everyman space demands.”
The production will also include a relaxed performance suitable for people with autism. The Everyman & Playhouse have previously had success with relaxed performances of its rock ‘n’ roll panto. The performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be the first relaxed performance of a Shakespeare production by a regional theatre.