Actor Phil Cheadle finds himself caught between the worlds of fact and fantasy in Shakespeare’s popular comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.
Phil is playing the dual roles of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Oberon, who is King of the Fairies.
In the play, the tangled love lives of four young people become even more complicated when the fairy king secretly intervenes to cause mischief.
The lovers pursue each other through a forest where the magic happens, also ensnaring a group of workers who are rehearsing a play to perform at the duke’s wedding celebrations.
Phil said that night time is when the magic happens, a theme that the production has taken up: “The lovers escape Athens at night. The moon becomes this huge character and I think that was the inspiration for the design.
“That is central, and it’s used in the costumes.”
He continued: “What is lovely about this production is the music which has been composed by Dan Gillespie Sells, who did Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. It’s very original and brilliant.
“This world of magic is actually music first, casting a spell through music.”
He sees it as something that Shakespeare intended: “There have been a lot of academics talking about how productions would have always had original music. It’s a play with songs.”
The lyrics are already there in the text, he said. “In some way we’re going back to an original approach to the play.”
Phil has been part of the same magical world before, when he played the King’s servant Puck in a production in Oxford. “I’ve been promoted to King of the Fairies!” he joked.
Phil sees Theseus as a very autocratic character whose word is law in a male-dominated society.
He said of Oberon: “We haven’t explicitly made them a version of the same character but we’re hinting at it. He’s possibly his alter ego but that’s not something we’re definitely saying.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield from September 28 to October 20. Tickets: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk