Tag Archives: Oliver Chris



Lord what fools these mortals be !

Magnificently directed by Nicholas Hytner and filmed and performed at the Bridge Theatre London, in some ways this is a rather radical re-working of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM , brilliantly done and hugely enjoyed by the live audience and those who catch the screen version.

It is immersive and interactive as those audience members in the ‘pit’ become part of the action and have to move around (yes like the ‘groundlings’ at the Globe).The cast at times interact with and/or enter through/move through the audience . The fairies are spectacular and there are lots of aerial acrobatics . The accompanying score includes Beyoncé and Dizzee Rascal.

While a huge chunk of it is warm and hilarious, there are also darker undertones. There are influences of Atwell’s The Handmaid’s Tale and also the legendary Peter Brook ‘white box’ production.

The chilly, stark , opening scenes are set in Athens with triumphant ,domineering Theseus , ( Oliver Chris) taunting captive Hippolyta (Gwendoline Christie – yes of Game Of Thrones – ) who is trapped in a glass cage.Athens is presented as a sombre, repressive, patriarchal society with the women in austere dresses and headscarves ,the men in black .
All changes ,though , in the mysterious forest , where the inhabitants are glittering and colourful. It is naughty, irreverent sexy and much fun.

The set design has many levels and layers with sections rising up and down .There are plenty of beds, some decorated as if representing a bower.

A major feature of this production is that it turns the ‘traditional’ expectations and presentations on its head – as is usual , the actors portraying Theseus and Hippolyta transform into the fairy queen and king, but here Titania has the lines normally assigned to Oberon while Oberon speaks hers – so it is Titania that is in control of the fairy world and we see Oberon fall in love with Bottom .

Kate Beynon & Her Self Portrait

As Titania , resetting the gender and fairy world dynamics ,Christie is tall, statuesque and commanding in green .She is resplendent and gracious.

Oliver Chris’ Oberon is at times deliciously funny. From a charismatic macho hippie he becomes a jumpy divo.There are enchanting moments of hesitation, doubt and sensitivity. There is warm chemistry and longing between Oberon & Bottom .Chris is perhaps at his most grandiose emerging from the raunchy his- and -his bubble bath with just a few wisps of foam as covering. Later ,when recovered from the drug of the magic flower , he reveals a more thoughtful side.

David Moorst is a remarkable punk, playful somewhat obstreperous high-wire Puck in ripped jeans and top, rainbow armbands and tattoos, who interacts with the audience as freely as with the immortals. As he is suspended from the ceiling, he has flowers between his toes and delivers some of his lines while hanging upside down.

Puck and Titania collude so that the quartet of mortal lovers consider each other, although fleetingly, as possible partners. Our quartet of mortal lovers was tremendously played.As Hermia , Isis Hainsworth is blazing and defiant, rapturously in love with Lysander and determined to marry him , breaking out of her repressive world and father’s control. As Helena, blonde Tessa Bonham Jones desperately loves Demetrius (Paul Adeyefa ) and eventually gives Hermia as good as she gets . Guitar bearing Lysander Kit Young is terrific .By the end of the play their whole world has changed.

Hammed Animashaun is a suitably brash, self confident, bragging Bottom , rather stunned to find himself Oberon’s toy boy. Rather arrogant eagerness is contrasted with reticence.

The Mechanicals are of both genders led by Felicity Montagu as a benevolent Quince and Bottom. In the Pyramus and Thisbe court performance they wear team purple shirts and trackpants and are presented as somewhat naive. They hastily borrow an audience member’s mobile to ascertain whether they will be moonshine on the night of their performance (a calendar! a calendar!) and take an impudent photo.

This production might perhaps startle traditionalists, challenging our expectations , but the audience adored it.

Running time – allow 3& ½ hours including interval

The NT Live screening of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is at selected cinemas from 9 November 2019

‘Young Marx’: from the team behind ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’

Rory Kinnera and Oliver Chris. Photo: Manuel Harlan

A new play in a new theatre sees the Bridge Theatre as founded by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr boldly open with YOUNG MARX by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman , reuniting the team behind one of the biggest hits of Hytner’s reign at the National: One Man, Two Guvnors as part of the NTLive series. Continue reading ‘Young Marx’: from the team behind ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’



This is a very interesting but perhaps somewhat disappointing version. Shakespeare’s dark comedy has been updated to now, and in a major twist we have Tamsin Grieg as Malvolia, compelling us to view everything through fresh eyes. But that is not the only twist in this unusual version – sexual orientations and gender identities are fluid in the confusions of Twelfth Night – not everyone is what or who they appear to be.

Countess Olivia and Duke Orsino are both captivated by the shipwrecked Viola when she’s in disguise as the page ‘Cesario’, while Viola’s twin brother Sebastian, in his search for her, is lovingly watched over by Antonio the sailor who rescued him.

This new modern dress production by Simon Godwin increases complications by boldly transforming Malvolio, the Puritanical steward, into Malvolia, a woman who has a lesbian passion for her employer, the Countess Olivia .

Does it work? To a degree, yes, but it is a bit uneven and rushed under Simon Godwin’s direction. For the screenings there are lots of dizzying shots of the use of the revolve and the unfolding of the pyramid like set (which at times unfolds like a 3D pop up storybook to fluidly become a ship’s prow, a chapel , a cell , a highly manicured courtyard full of box trees, a nightclub). The opening shipwreck scene is masterly. There are long dangerous staircases and a swimming pool or two … not forgetting the fountain in the famous letter scene … water is a major theme.

Continue reading NT LIVE : TWELFTH NIGHT