Just days after the cast was unveiled for his new take on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Russell T Davies has been revealing more details about what to expect from his TV play – including a couple of surprise influences.
“It’s kind of its own world,” Davies told columnist Alison Graham in a Friday session at the Radio Times Festival. “It’s gonna be gorgeous.”
“Athens [where the play is set] is a very fascist state, and it’s ruled by a dictator called Theseus. Outside you’ve got the forest, and the fairies aren’t glittery. They haven’t got wings and stuff like that. They’re rough and tough, and they live in the forest. They’re kind of Game of Thrones fairies in a way.
“They’re strong and tough, and the magic is powerful. The magic is quite vile in that play. It’s a really tough production.”
In fact, when Davies tells the story you can’t help but feel it’d be right at home in the blockbuster HBO series…
“The whole plot is kicked into motion because Duke Theseus in Athens condemns Hermia to death if she doesn’t marry the right man,” he said.
“Her father [sentences] her to death – and that’s why they run off into the forest. Underneath all the Morris Dancing side of it, it’s a very very tough play. That’s how we’re doing it.”
The former Doctor Who supremo went on to reveal his long-standing love for the play (which has seen him work on amateur productions throughout his life), and the surprisingly sporty reason he finally decided to take the theatrical plunge.
“30 years ago, I swore I’d do it on television one day,” he said.
“And do you know what finally kicked me to do it? The Olympic opening ceremony in 2012. Which I thought was so full-on, and it was so brilliant, that they transmitted something to the world that praised the NHS, which had Voldemort fighting Mary Poppins.
“It was so huge and imaginative, and I sat there going ‘why am I waiting to make a production like Midsummer Night’s Dream? Why aren’t I out there doing it?’ So here we are now.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins filming next week