If you think one of the cast of the Crucible’s new Shakespeare production looks familiar, just think about Marmite. Yes, really.
Donna Berlin, who plays Starveling the tailor on stage, appeared recently on TV in one of the Marmite adverts that became a surprise hit! She is the distraught mum whose teenage daughter has a meltdown when a DNA test shows she doesn’t really have an aversion to the spread.
She has appeared in lots of small parts on big TV shows such as Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Extras, Emmerdale and Holby City, but Marmite is the one that has stuck in people’s memories.
Donna said: “People still stop me in the street and say, ‘Are you from the Marmite advert?’
“I get people looking at me on the Tube, sat staring at me, thinking something like, ‘Do I know her personally? Is she a friend of my mum’s?’!”
That response took the actor by surprise as it was just half a day’s fairly routine work.
Donna is very much enjoying getting to grips with her first-ever Shakespeare role.
However, shewas probably not expecting that her skills as a choreographer and movement trainer, honed as a tutor at the LAMDA drama school in London would come in so handy for this role.
In a surprise move, director Robert Hastie has turned the mini play into a spoof musical, complete with original score by Dan Gillespie Sells.
Dan alsowrote the music for the Crucible and now West End hit show , Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Donna said: “It’s Shakespeare like you’ve never seen before. We’ve taken it to another level.
“There’s a lot of fun to be had. Every single skill we possess is being used, and some we are learning.”
Daniel Rigby plays Bottom, who gets one of the key roles of Pyramus but is so over-enthusiastic that he wants to play all the parts.
Magic and reality collide in the show, as the humans unknowingly encounter fairies in the woods outside Athens, who cause all sorts of mischief.
During rehearsals in the forest, Bottom is magically turned into an ass by a mischievous fairy, Puck, and the Queen of the Fairies, Titania, is also enchanted to fall in love with him as part of a tiff with her husband, Oberon.
Donna plays Starveling the tailor, a reluctant actor who gets the role of Moonshine.
She said: “On the outside she may appear to be a hard-faced misery guts.
“She is not, she’s not particularly happy with the show but is happy in herself. She’s just not a big smiler!
“I think the company of mechanicals are used to her, they know what they’re getting.”
The idea of making Pyramus and Thisbee into a spoof musical might raise a few eyebrows, of course, although it works brilliantly well and is very clever and funny.
Donna said: “Nothing is missed out, all the words are in the right order, but with music of pretty much every style. There's something for everyone.”
She was seen a year ago at the Crucible Studio in comedy Of Kith and Kin and said: “It’s like coming home, I’m so happy.
“Last year was the first time I’ve ever played Sheffield and by the time I left I’d fallen in love with it.
“I think, what’s not to love?”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on now at the Crucible in Sheffield ans runs to October 20. Book online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk