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Silk and Shameless star Maxine Peake has been cast as the lovelorn fairy queen Titania in Russell T Davies’ reworking of Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
She will be joined by Sliding Doors and Rebus star John Hannah who takes on the role of King Theseus in the former Doctor Who showrunner’s 90-minute adaptation of Shakespeare’s tale of love and magic in an around a fantasy Athens.
Little Britain star Matt Lucas has been called on to play the part of Bottom, the Athenian weaver who organises a troupe of actors to venture into the wood to rehearse their play – only to fall prey to the mischief of the fairies who rule the forest.
Bottom’s troupe will be played by a diverse range of performing talent. One Foot in the Grave actor Richard Wilson will star as Starveling, with former Doctor Who star Bernard Cribbins playing Snout. Comedian Javone Prince has been cast as Snug and Fisayo Akinade as Flute.
The part of Mistress Quince – the wife of Peter Quince who wrote the play performed by the so-called Rude Mechanicals of idiotic actors – will be taken by singer Elaine Paige.
Eleanor Matsuura – Bev in Channel 4’s drama Utopia – plays Queen Hippolyta with the part of Oberon’s messenger fairy Puck played by relative newcomer Hiran Abeysekera.
The play starts with two sets of lovers eloping to the forest where they encounter a magical world overseen by Theseus and Hippolyta’s other-worldly counterparts Titiania and Oberon, who are themselves engaged in a quarrel.
Russell T Davies said of his cast: “This is such an exciting range of actors from stage and screen, from wild comedy to high drama, and some making their first ever appearance on camera. The Dream is coming to life like never before.”
Davies has promised a “bold and accessible” 90-minute version of the play which BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore says will be a “truthful version of the play – the original play, the original words, the original Shakespeare”.
She added that it would be “warm and funny” and “will have as much attitude and invention as any theatrical interpretation.”
When the drama was announced last month, Davies said: “I’ve wanted to make this for the BBC for my entire adult life – and only the BBC can put on a play like this, for all the family, smack-bang in the heart of primetime. With a riot of prosthetics, CGI, magic and action, it needs the brilliant Doctor Who team in Cardiff to bring it to life.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be filmed in Cardiff’s Roath Lock studios and will air in 2016.