Tuesday, June 18

All-female version of Shakespeare favourite set for the stage after Covid delay

A hugely anticipated modern version of a William Shakespeare classic is set for a busy run in Manchester – with all the roles played by women.

The 21st century interpretation of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ will be staged at the Hope Mill Theatre, from October 6th – 16th, following on from two similar sold-out Shakespeare shows in 2018 and 2019.

In a twist on the plot of the original play – which revolves around the marriage of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons – this reimagined version is set on Hipppolyta’s hen-do in a Manchester nightclub.

Billed as ‘Canal Street’s explosive imagination meets the instability of Love Island and the classiness of the Real Housewives of Cheshire’, the play has been produced by HER Productions in partnership with Girl Gang Manchester and directed by Kate Colgrave Pope.

The play will showcase young and emerging local talent, with several graduates taking on starring roles in the play.

They will appear alongside well-known names including Karen Henthorn, who spent 18 months in Coronation Street as Teresa Bryant in the late 2000s.

HER Productions’ founder Hannah Ellis-Ryan said: “Our All-Female Shakespeares have been so popular in the past, we’re over the moon to finally be back at the beautiful Hope Mill Theatre with ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

“We were gutted that we weren’t able to stage this adaptation in 2020 because of Covid-19, so it will be all-the-more special when we finally get to perform it.

“This will be a fresh and dynamic take on Shakespeare’s classic, but like our previous productions will stay true to the spirit of the original play.

“As well as being set in modern-day Manchester, the show will be shorter, so we aren’t keeping people too long, as well as having the twist of all the roles being played by women.

Karen Henthorn as Bottom in rehearsals. Pic by Emma Ledwith

“Women are still so under-represented in the Arts and doing something like this gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase what a depth of female talent Manchester has to offer.”

The play follows in the footsteps of Her Productions’ sold-out runs of Romeo and Juliet, in 2018, and Hamlet, in 2019.

It had been scheduled to run at Hope Mill last year but was postponed due to Covid-19.

Karen Henthorn, who plays comedy favourite Bottom, has never performed Shakespeare before, and despite being ‘absolutely terrified’ can’t wait to perform as part of an all-female cast.

Karen, who has just returned from filming upcoming Channel 5 thriller ‘The Teacher’ with Sheridan Smith in Budapest, said: “I have always been terrified of doing Shakespeare and have always turned it down in the past – being 58 the lines take a lot longer to go in!

“However, when this came up everything about it just seemed right: Bottom is a fantastic part and Home Mill Theatre is just a wonderful venue. I love its plays and audiences, and it is right on my doorstep as well.

“I have never worked as part of an all-female company and it feels very different – there is a different energy in the rehearsal room which I am loving – everyone is kind, supportive and empathetic.

“It feels very special, it is a unique experience for me which I am absolutely loving, even though I’m absolutely terrified of being in a Shakespeare play!”

Tickets cost £14 (£12 concessions) and are available here: https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/events/a-midsummer-nights-dream