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REVIEWS & CAST

2009
Much Ado About Nothing
A Midsummer Night's Dream

2008
A Midsummer Night's Dream

2007
Henry V
As You Like It

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2006

Romeo & Juliet
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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2005
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Taming of the Shrew

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2004
Twelfth Night
Much Ado About Nothing

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2003
As You Like It
Hamlet

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2002
Romeo & Juliet
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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2001
Macbeth
The Taming of the Shrew

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2000
Twelfth Night
Much Ado About Nothing

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1999
Hamlet
As You Like It

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1998
Henry V
A Midsummer Night's Dream

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1997
Romeo & Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew

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1996
As You Like It
Much Ado About Nothing

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1995
Twelfth Night
A Midsummer Night's Dream



A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

CAST

Robin Goodfellow
Wayne Sleep

Hippolyta & Titania
Mina Anwar

Theseus & Oberon
David Davies

Philostrate
Craig Gilbert

Egeus & Francis Flute
John Ioannou

Hermia
Liana Weafer

Demetrius
Luciano Dodero

Lysander
Matt Hebden

Helena
Maxine Gregory

Peter Quince
Michael Gabe

Nick Bottom
Robert J Williamson

Tom Snout
Christopher Robert

Starveling
Liam Gerrard

Snug
Robert Crumpton

Peaseblossom
Natasha Kemball

Director
Robert J Williamson

Original music by
Elisa Harris


ROMEO & JULIET

CAST

Romeo
Sean B Brosnan

Juliet
Liana Weafer

Nurse
Mina Anwar

Paris
Matt Hebden

Peter
Liam Gerrard

Rosaline
Natasha Kemball

Friar Laurence
Christopher Robert

Friar John
Craig Gilbert

Tybalt
Luciano Dodero

Benvolio
Robert Crumpton

Mercutio
Robert J Williamson

Capulet
David Davies

Lady Capulet
Maxine Gregory

Montague & Apothecary
Michael Gabe

Escalus
John Ioannou

Co-Directors
Robert J Williamson
Pip Minnithorpe

Original music by
Elisa Harris


FOR THE COMPANY

Assistant Directors
Frank Jarvis
Craig Gilbert

Production Assistant
Georgia Landers

A Midsummer Night's Dream Costume Design
Mia Flodquist

Assistant Costume Designer
Sarah Grange

Romeo and Juliet Costumes
Robert J Williamson

Set Design
Robert J Williamson
Nancy Surman

Fight Director
Tim Klotz of YoungBlood

Additional Fight Direction
Robert J Williamson

Magical Adviser
Liam Gerrard

Casting
Robert J Williamson

Programme Notes
Robert Crumpton

Magical Adviser
Liam Gerrard

Casting
Robert J Williamson

Programme Notes
Robert Crumpton


 

 

 

 
 

 

Tour 2006

Romeo & Juliet
A Midsummer Night's Dream

Starring:
Wayne Sleep
Sean B Brosnan
Robert J Williamson

Full cast details below

Performed at:
Rochester Castle, Kent
Markeaton Park, Derby
ComXo, Windsor
Ramme Gaard, Norway
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Nottingham Playhouse
Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

2006 reviews

The Times theatre critic Benedict Nightingale listed the 1st Edinburgh Shakespeare Festival as the number one theatre event in Edinburgh and the number two theatre event in Scotland.


ROMEO AND JULIET

It is very amusing... a summer night by the fjord is beautiful. The company is impressively cast with original characters... Even from the top of the amphitheatre we have close contact with the hunt for love and the game of life.”
Vårt Land


"Over the past couple of years I have seem them develope to such an extent that there are no genuine challengers to their tag of "Britian's largest and best-loved open-air Shakespeare company"
The British Theatre Guide


An excellent package; it succeeds largely because it allows the play to speak for itself.

Round every street corner this summer you’ll find a production of Romeo and Juliet on offer. That being so, there has to be a special reason to go to see any one in particular. With this solid and gimmick-free interpretation director Robert J Williamson gives a whole clutch of reasons.

It’s mainly down to the acting, which, not only in the main roles, is always better than your average and often superb. There’s inventive use of the built-for-outdoors up-and-down set, some nice fight work and convincing Elizabethan togs - which, admittedly, these days almost counts as a gimmick.

Williamson doesn’t throw the ball scene away, as some directors do. He has the lovers (Sean B Brosnan and Liana Weafer) making clear their mutual attraction against the background of a beautiful song done a cappella by Natasha Kemball. Weafer gives an excellent performance - her speech at the end makes you want to see her in arguably greater, more mature roles like, say, Lady Macbeth.

In Romeo’s scenes with Friar Laurence it isn’t so much callow youth being guided by older man as two men in mature, sometimes bitter, confrontation. Christopher Robert’s Friar is masterly; there’s a measured authority and humanity about his performance, which makes his stricken flight at the end especially poignant. He speaks the text beautifully.

In fact, quality of line-delivery, for instance by Maxine Gregory and David Davies playing the Capulets, is a feature of this production. Being early Shakespeare, there’s a lot of rhyme; this and the rest of the great poetry are always done magnificently.

Humour comes not only from the Nurse (Mina Anwar with a tripe-and-onions accent), which is to be expected, but from Liam Gerrard as Peter the servant.

When you let this play speak for itself it usually works; it certainly does here.
Alan Geary, www.reviewsgate.com


"The major attraction of the evening was Sean Brosnan, son of Pierce, who shared one of the title roles, with Liana Weafer playing Juliet to his Romeo.
Talented, Brosnan will improve technically as his career goes on but for now audiences will see a young and raw actor and should judge accordingly.

As the play matures so do the performances of the two actors – when Weafer's Juliet learns of the death of her cousin Tybalt and the banishment of her husband Romeo, it evokes strongly the madness of another of Shakespeare's tragic heroines Ophelia.

The greatest strength of this show is the typically strong performances of the ensemble around the main parts – in particular Christopher Robert as the Friar Laurence and David Davies as Lord Capulet"
Yorkshire Evening Post


"You know it’s British summertime when you find yourself in the great outdoors enjoying the works of William Shakespeare. Of all the companies keeping this great tradition alive, the best I have seen has to be British Shakespeare Company. Tonight’s performance of “Romeo & Juliet” starred a certain Sean B Brosnan playing Romeo. Displaying his father’s flair for a commanding presence and strong voice, Brosnan shined in the role, bringing a believable mixture of vulnerability and nobility. Another fine newcomer, Liana Weafer played Juliet opposite him with grace and charm.

Keeping faithfully to the text, the production brings out the humour present in the play but no more, and successfully invokes the tragedy of the tale too. Liam Gerrard’s comic turn as the servant Peter was a particular show-stopper. It’s an old story but one that will always be relevant and when produced like this, it still wields an incredible power. A great summer’s night out."
Ned Netherwood, www.alive.co.uk


"Sean Brosnan, the son of James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan making his professional theatre debut in this tour, gave us a handsome and dashing Romeo although his limited experience struggled to bring out the full tragedy of the role. In the other title role, Liana Weafer's slight stature was a positive aspect of her impersonation but her performance was perhaps a little too assured, lacking the naievety of the teenage Juliet. It was an excellent performance nonetheless; masterly at times, particularly her tear streaked anguish when Juliet learns of the death of her cousin Tybalt and the banishment of her husband Romeo. In the supporting roles Christopher Robert's Friar Laurence was exemplary, every inch the supporting father figure, confidante and concerned friend of the young couple. Director Robert J Williamson (a standout in 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' at the same venue) gave us a brash and assured Mercutio, at odds with Luciano Dodero's angry and brooding Tybalt, whilst Robert Crumpton delivered a strong character performance as the peacemaker Benvolio. Natasha Kemball's Rosaline was almost totally absent from the story, with nothing made of her slighting by Romeo when he switched his affection to Juliet. Her performance was however notable for the beautiful clear soprano of her a capella singing at the ballroom at death scenes. Mina Anwar revelled in the role of Nurse, making no apologies for her rough Lancashire accent and tackling the role with a laconic and down to earth nature. Verdict: A solid no-nonsense production of the Shakespearean classic."
Don Gillan, www.stagebeauty.net


“Actor manager Robert J. Williamson threw himself into every last minute detail of the set-up before stepping into costume to play Nick Bottom, the weaver, who heads up one of the most incompetent amateur dramatic troupes in the history of theatre. No comparison with Mr Williamson's excellent British Shakespeare Company is intended. Every member of the sixteen-strong cast gleams in this animated production, directed with his sharp eye for expressive detail and innate sense of pace by Williamson himself. His Bottom (if I may phrase it like this!) is an endearing, utterly watchable character. You can hear every syllable - even when he is encumbered with the ass's head in the hilarious seduction scene. David Davies is a powerful and sonorous King of the Fairies and he is beautifully matched by Mina Anwar's delicate Titania. The legendary Wayne Sleep returns to bring his own unique balletic grace to the role of the impish Puck. Such is the consistent strength of ensemble in Williamson's company, the star names rarely outshine the other performers.

A case in point might be the casting of Sean B. Brosnan as Romeo. This has inevitably created some excitement - he of course has a famous Dad and is given top billing. This is perhaps unusual for an actor who graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama only last year and whose professional theatre debut this is. Be that as it may, Brosnan junior looks and sounds as though he might have been born to play this role. His superbly nuanced performance left the inescapable impression that we were watching a star in the making. Liana Weafer, his Juliet, has already notched up an impressive list of Shakespearean roles at London's Globe Theatre. Weafer heartbreakingly conveys the headstrong Juliet's vulnerability and her sense of isolation. Marvellous though this pair undoubtedly are, they are the first among equals in an outstanding cast. This year's attractive set designs - a small platform flanked by curved staircases, conifers and statues - places most of the action on the grass, with ample space for the actors to run on and off stage. Mia Flodquist's flowing Elizabethan costumes - cobweb grey and moss green for the Fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream - are a feast for the eyes. The fading light of an English Summer evening and the shadow of these ancient Cloisters casts a spell of enchantment. It is hardly surprising that the Leeds Shakespeare Festival has built up such a cult following over the past twelve years.” Geoffrey Mogridge, Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer


Wayne Sleep

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

"A first class performance in a first class setting. If you think Shakespeare is unintelligible or dull you have not seen this."
Modern Theatre Review


“The open air theatre Havlyst is a midsummer night's dream in itself... This version was bubbling with comedy... clear and easy to understand, presented in beautiful, well articulated English.”
DAGBLADET

 

"R J Williamson is back with one of his strongest productions in recent years. The Leeds-born actor has been running the city's Shakespeare Festival for more than a decade, bringing the Bard's work to the surrounds of Kirkstall Abbey.

Although he clearly likes to keep a tight hold of his productions, Williamson has given his actors some freedom to use their comedic talents to bring the script to life. No-one uses this freedom to greater advantage than Maxine Gregory who nearly steals the whole show as the "painted maypole", Helena. She plays her with a quite brilliant performance and a sense of comic timing. Her performance – and Williamson's direction – make the sometimes flat scenes with the four young human lovers great fun.

So too the mechanicals, building their performances around Williamson's brilliant Bottom, bring a zest and humour to their scenes. Their Pyramus and Thisbe was riotous from the start - and the addition of a slightly randy canine – who took a shine to the leg of the actor playing Moon – felt absolutely in keeping with the comedy that had abounded all night.

That aside, Williamson has returned with a production that, with a little help from the weather, should ensure yet another return next year."
Yorkshire Evening Post


A success all round. It achieves that remarkable juxtaposition of magic and poetry, farce and knock-about which makes the play so well-loved.

It was a bit of an irony, in fact a lot of an irony, that on a perfect summer’s evening the one Shakespeare play almost certainly written for open-air performance had to be watched inside the Nottingham Playhouse. Luckier audiences have already seen it outdoors in Edinburgh and Norway; and it’s about to move on to Leeds and London.

On a confined stage the upstairs and downstairs set looked a trifle cramped but this was the only thing about the production that was. In nearly every other respect it had Robert J Williamson’s showmanship stamped all over it. All right, we didn’t get a semi-gratuitous but welcome falcon as in previous years, but we got a delightful sheep-dog called Jodie, playing Dog - again semi-gratuitous but welcome.

And hers wasn’t the only good performance: it was an unusually strong cast. Wayne Sleep, as Puck, the role he played four years ago at the Castle, was outstanding. Diminutive and boyish, he packed far more into the part than he did last time; his comic timing and sensitive rapport with the audience were admirable.

As Helena, Maxine Gregory was hectically funny as she gathered her skirts about her in exasperation - almost a gimmick these days, the whole thing was in Elizabethan costume - and engaged the sympathy of the audience. It wasn’t all laughs. It started quite darkly with Theseus (David Davies, a fine Australian actor) and Hippolyta (Mina Anwar). Davies and Anwar, as is customary, doubled as Oberon and Titania, which in this production were more important roles.

Most of the best comedy came when the confusion between the four lovers reached its climax and during the scenes with Bottom (Robert Williamson) and the other ‘rude mechanicals’.

This production achieved that remarkable juxtaposition of dreamy magic, poetry and comedy - knock-about and farce - which makes this play so well-loved.
Alan Geary, www.reviewsgate.com


"Robert J Williamson’s direction allows the words to carry, not force, the production. At its best, this creates a brilliantly dynamic and hilarious lovers’ argument scene between Maxine Gregory’s up-front Helena and Liana Weafer’s shrewish Hermia, with athletic support from the otherwise statuesque Luciano Dodero (Demetrius) and Matt Hebden (Lysander).

This draws the comedic attention away from the mechanicals - lead by Williamson as Bottom with Michael Gabe as Quince - allowing their scenes to grow naturally. Comic, but not overblown, performances from John Ioannou (Flute), Christopher Robert (Snout), Liam Gerrard (Starveling) and Robert Crumpton (Snug) make a naturalistic play scene."
The Stage


"The British Shakespeare Company brought this enduring text to vibrant life in the wonderful setting off the old cloisters at Kirkstall Abbey. Robert J Williamson was absolutely side-splitting in the role of Bottom, whilst Wayne Sleep brought an other-worldly glamour to the role of Puck. The ultimate test for any production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, though, is the play within a play at the end. If you’re not watching a good production, then it feels like the ending is drawn out and delayed. Tonight, the climactic play within a play was the highlight of the play, reducing the audience to roaring with laughter. Every single one of the “rude mechanicals” had a flair for comedy, even their dog! All in all, this was an absolutely classic production of a classic play."
Ned Netherwood, www.alive.co.uk


"David Davies gave a confident performance as Theseus/Oberon, delivering his lines with perfect clarity and quickly establishing a great rapport with the audience. Mina Anwar meanwhile is a fine talent but was not in my eyes ideally suited to the roles of Hyppolita/Titania (more openly comic roles suit her best like her constable Habib in "The Thin Blue Line"). For me, her performance was more forced than natural and consequently was less than convincing. Wayne Sleep, best known of course as a dancer, was superb as Puck - his dimunitive stature and childish antics bringing the character to life. Sean B. Brosnan as Demetrius and Matt Hebden as Lysander gave solid performances as did Liana Weafer as Hermia was also notable for the clarity of her diction. Golden voiced Natasha Kemball gave a delightful performance as Peaseblossom and her lullaby to Titania was one of the evenings highlights. Maxine Gregory was a standout for her comic performance as the flustered and confused Helena whilst co-director Robert J. Williamson almost stole the show with his wonderfully funny portrayal of the ham actor Bottom. That particular accolade has to go however to Jodie, whose singular performance as 'Dog' displayed the perfect timing of a considerable comic talent. Furthermore, she was perfectly cast in the role given that she is, in fact yes, a dog. Only on stage for a few minutes near the end, her antics brought the biggest laughs of the night proving the old actors maxim of never act with children or animals if you don't want to be upstaged. Verdict: A first class performance in a first class setting. If you think Shakespeare is unintelligible or dull you have not seen this."
Don Gillan, www.stagebeauty.net


"Most of Derby missed a rare treat last night. The British Shakespeare Company brought A Midsummer Night's Dream to Markeaton Park for the company's first visit to the city.

Those that were there had a thoroughly enjoyable time, the cast threw their all into the production and it was an extremely comical portrayal of one of the Bard's most famous plays. The interweaving of the three tales can be complex but the cast worked hard to make the action straightforward and Wayne Sleep's ballet movements and antics as a mischievous sprite kept everyone amused. Don't miss it!"
Derby Evening Telegraph

 
   
     
       

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