Meet the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Russell T Davies’ new Shakespearean adaptation is brimful of acting talent, from Maxine Peak to Matt Lucas. Here are the major players

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And now, for your bank holiday delectation, A Midsummer Night’s Dream as you’ve never seen it before.

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Former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies brings the Shakespeare comedy to life on BBC1, but who are the major players? Find out more about the cast and characters here.

Titania – Maxine Peake

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Queen of the fairy kingdom, Titania is a fierce warrior estranged from her lover, fairy king Oberon, after an argument

Getting her start as Twinkle in the late Victoria Wood’s dinnerladies, Peake has since made her name with high-profile roles in legal drama Silk, The Village, Shameless and as Myra Hindley in 2008 film See No Evil: The Moors Murders.

She also holds the distinction of being one of the few women to play Hamlet on stage, performing as the troubled Prince of Denmark in a smash-hit production in 2014.


Oberon – Nonso Anozie

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Ruler of the fairy kingdom, Oberon has split with Titania and longs for revenge. With the help of his lieutenant Puck and his own mischievous plans, he might get his chance.

Probably best known for portraying Qarthian businessman Xaro Xhoan Daxos in Game of Thrones, Anozie has a long list of film, stage and television credits including Ender’s Game, Sense8, Conan the Barbarian and last year’s Cinderella, and most recently provided the voice of Hydroflax’s body in Doctor Who Christmas special The Husbands of River Song (alongside Midsummer Night’s Dream co-star Matt Lucas).


Bottom – Matt Lucas

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A foolish weaver and amateur actor, Bottom’s self-obsession and overconfidence may be his downfall when he wanders into the path of Oberon and Puck. 

A British comedy icon, Lucas first hit the big time with his comedy sketch series Little Britain (co-created with David Walliams), before going on to star in projects as varied as Russell T Davies’ Casanova, Gavin & Stacey, The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, Community and Paddington.

Last year he made his Doctor Who debut in Christmas special The Husbands of River Song, which was shot at the same studios as A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


Theseus – John Hannah

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A conqueror and military leader, Theseus rules over Athens with an iron fist.

Scottish actor Hannah came to international attention after appearing in Richard Curtis’ Four Weddings and a Funeral, later appearing in The Mummy trilogy, Spartacus and police procedural parody A Touch of Cloth. Recently, he also starred in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD as Holden Radcliffe.


Hippolyta – Eleanor Matsuura

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A fearsome warrior defeated and captured by Theseus, Hippolyta is forced into becoming his bride.

Matsuura is a veteran of several British dramas including Doctor Who, New Tricks, Hustle, Cuffs and EastEnders, and is also known for her stage work.


Puck – Hiran Abeysekera

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The trickster sidekick to Oberon, Puck’s games end up causing confusion in the forest as he manipulates a group of young lovers.

Midsummer Night’s Dream marks Abeysekera’s TV debut, having previously only appeared in short film Lion in the Tent and various major stage roles including the leads in Peter Pan and Equus.


Hermia – Prisca Bakare

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The beautiful daughter of nobleman Egeus, Hermia rejects his favoured suitor Demetrius due to her love for Lysander, much to her father’s displeasure.

As with the other young lovers to various degrees, Bakare is new to the screen having not appeared in any major roles before.


Helena – Kate Kennedy

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A friend and confidant to Hermia, Helena is desperately in love with her suitor Demetrius – despite his complete indifference towards her.

Previously popping up in Channel 4 comedy Catastrophe, Kennedy is also a writer and stand-up comedian, and has appeared in various theatre productions over the years.


Lysander – Matthew Tennyson

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After being rejected by her father, Lysander convinces his love Hermia to elope with him into the Athenian forest, only to run into trouble both man-made and fantastical.

Tennyson (who is the great-great-great-grandson of poet laureate Alfred Tennyson) has appeared in various stage productions, including playing Puck in a stage production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe.

On screen his credits include the young Clarence in the original 2012 Hollow Crown series (Henry IV part 1 and 2), Da Vinci’s Demons, Pride, Midsomer Murders and Father Brown.


Demetrius – Paapa Essiedu

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The brash and headstrong intended match for Hermia and guardsman for Theseus, Demetrius will do whatever it takes to claim his bride.

An experienced Shakespearean actor, Essiedu made headlines when he became the first black Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company this year, also starring in productions of Romeo and Juliet and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

On screen you may have seen him in Channel 4 conspiracy thriller Utopia or comedy Not Safe for Work.


Mistress Quince – Elaine Paige

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The leader of the Mechanicals acting troupe, Quince is often frustrated by the antics of her leading man Bottom.

Musical theatre icon Elaine Paige makes a rare foray into television for A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a gender-swapped Quince (normally a man called Peter), having previously appeared in 1980s dramas like Agatha Christie’s Marple, Lady Killers and Where the Heart Is.

She’s far better known for her albums and musical roles, which have included originating lead roles in Evita and Cats and won her several awards including an Olivier Award for best Performance in a Musical.


Starveling – Richard Wilson

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Starveling is a largely affable tailor whose amateur acting ability and struggles to deal with hecklers cause him trouble in the final performance.

Richard Wilson’s role as the grouchy Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave won him countless fans, though younger viewers may know him better as court physician Gaius in BBC drama Merlin or as a noble doctor in the 2005 series of Doctor Who.

Other notable appearances have included New Tricks, Inspector Morse, Trollied, Demons, A Passage to India and Gnomeo and Juliet.


Snout – Bernard Cribbins

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A tinker, Snout is pressed to perform the part of the wall in the Mechanicals’ performance. 

With a career spanning over 70 years, just as many viewers will know Cribbins for his work fronting Cbeebies show Old Jack’s Boat as for his appearances in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy, Fawlty Towers or as the narrator in The Wombles.

Notably, he appeared as a companion in the second Peter Cushing Dr Who film (an adaptation of the original series) Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150, only to later star in the main series as recurring companion Wilfred Mott in recent years.


Snug – Javone Prince

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A nervous performer, Snug the joiner is given the part of a lion in the Pyramus & Thisbe play.

Javone Prince came to public attention thanks to his role as Jerwayne in PhoneShop, though he has also starred in other comedies like Horrible Histories, Rev, Little Miss Jocelyn, Life’s Too Short and Plebs. 

More recently he was Bafta-nominated for his self-penned sketch series The Javone Prince Show, and has starred in more serious stage roles including Measure for Measure, Titus Andronicus and Richard III.


Flute – Fisayo Akinade

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Persuaded to play a woman’s part in the Mechanicals’ play, Flute the bellows-mender ends up surprising all with his acting prowess.

Apart from a small appearance in Fresh Meat, Akinade came to prominence thanks to a starring role in Russell T Davies last major project Cucumber/Banana, where he played pathological liar Dean Monroe.

He has since acted in Ordinary Lies and The Vote, and is set to appear in Gemma Arterton zombie movie The Girl with All the Gifts.


Egeus – Colin McFarlane

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The stern father of Hermia, Egeus appeals to Duke Theseus to keep his wayward daughter in line.

McFarlane is a longstanding actor and voiceover artist, who may be best known for playing police commissioner Gillian B. Loeb in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

In the UK he has appeared in varied series like Holby City, Coronation Street, EastEnders, Dirk Gently, Death in Paradise and Father Brown, as well as Torchwood and Doctor Who. 

In his capacity as a voiceover artist McFarlane has worked for video games like Batman: Arkham Knight, LittleBigPlanet 2 and TV shows like The Cube.


Philostrate – Elliot Levey

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A personal aide to Theseus, Philostrate is in charge of managing his lord’s entertainment but secretly abhors his master’s brutality.

Levey is a familiar face in a host of TV series including Ripper Street, Grantchester, Man Down, The Wrong Mans, New Tricks, Jamaica Inn, Da Vinci’s Demons, Holby City and Hotel Babylon.


Cobweb – Charlotte Blake

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A loyal fairy attendant to Titania. 

Blake has previously appeared in Call the Midwife and various short films.


Peaseblossom – Varada Sethu

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A loyal fairy attendant to Titania.

Sethu has previously played parts in Doctors and New Blood, and will appear in blockbuster Now You See Me 2 this year.


Moth – Tia Benbow-Hart

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A loyal fairy attendant to Titania.

Benbow-Hart is relatively new to acting, and also works as a model.


Mustardseed – Marlene Madenge

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A loyal fairy attendant to Titania.

Madenge had a major role on BBC school drama Waterloo Road as Lula Tsibi, and later appeared in Doctors and Let’s Dance for Sport Relief (competing as herself).

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream airs on BBC1 this evening (Monday 30th May) at 8.30pm