Disco inspired A Midsummer Night's Dream to open Roman Theatre Festival in St Albans
- Credit: Tim Morozzo
The 2022 Roman Theatre Open Air Festival opens in St Albans next week.
A disco-inspired production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will kick off this year’s festival at the Roman Theatre of Verulamium on Tuesday, May 24.
OVO’s musical remix of William Shakespeare’s evergreen romantic comedy is co-directed by artistic director Adam Nichols and associate director Matt Strachan.
Sporting a glamorously attired cast, OVO’s ‘Dream’ is set to transport audiences to the glittering, hustling, hip-swivelling age of the 1970s disco boom.
Starring some of the Roman Theatre and Maltings Theatre’s most popular actors, including Emma Wright as Titania, Guido Garcia Lueches as Puck, Lyle Fulton as Lysander and Emilia Harrild as Hermia, this ‘Dream’ will have audiences singing along to the blissful disco soundtrack.
Adam Nichols said: “We decided to set ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in the 1970s for two reasons – social change and music.
“Disco was one of the most influential cultural and musical movements of the 1970s and our production gives us the opportunity to explore and question traditional expectations of gender and sexuality through the music and through the lens of the women’s movement and liberation politics of the 1970s.
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"When the play goes into the forest and the lovers run away, there’s a series of fantastical events that led us to think of hedonism, and the glamour and glitz associated with the height of disco.
"We’ve created two contrasting worlds: the traditional working men’s clubs of Britain and the glamour of New York’s Studio 54!”
In the beige 1970s in a down-at-heel working men’s club in northern England, barman Nick Bottom dreams of a music career.
Meanwhile, Mia, Helen, Dean and Andy are snogging, drinking, fighting, and arguing, much to the disapproval of their parents.
Until a mystical figure appears and they’re all transported to a dream world where an enchanted palace offers games of music, dreams, and fantasy.
But will Nick find his voice, and will the lovers find a partner before the music stops?
This hugely entertaining production features music played by a live band under the stars.
It follows OVO’s long line of critically acclaimed and award-winning musical Shakespeare productions including the 80s rock-fest Merry Wives of Windsor, and As You Like It set in the Summer of Love.
On choosing the music, co-director Matt Strachan said: “We’ll be drawing on the Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever classics such as Stayin’ Alive and You Should Be Dancing because we’ve embedded elements of the film into the fabric of our concept.
"We’ll also have Candi Staton’s 1976 chart-topper, Young Hearts Run Free, as a way of questioning how the play traditionally treats its women.
"And we’ve had great fun researching the world of ‘70s disco so there will be lots more music for the audience to enjoy and remember!”
A Midsummer Night's Dream can be seen from May 24 to June 11. For tickets, visit www.ovo.org.uk
The festival itself runs until August 21.
“We’re all set for our longest ever residency at the Roman Theatre,” added Adam Nichols.
“We’ll be there for three months with a fabulous programme of entertainment that offers something for everyone, whether they’re regular visitors or first timers to our beautiful venue."