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Audiences to be left spellbound by Raphael Park Shakespeare performance

PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:21 19 June 2017

Flute (Will Atkinson), Snout (Peter Farenden) and Bottom (Paul Sparrowham), in Romford Summer Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Picture: Chrissie O'Connor

Flute (Will Atkinson), Snout (Peter Farenden) and Bottom (Paul Sparrowham), in Romford Summer Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Picture: Chrissie O'Connor

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Paul Sparrowham plays Bottom in Romford Summer Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Picture: Mark GriffithsPaul Sparrowham plays Bottom in Romford Summer Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Picture: Mark Griffiths

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is returning to an open-air venue next week, and organisers Romford Summer Theatre have guaranteed it will not disappoint.

This rendition of Shakespeare’s classic is led by director Chrissie O’Connor, who will capture audiences’ interest with her portrayals of the themes of love, magic, mayhem and merriment.

Actor Paul Sparrowham is set to return to the stage as Bottom.

“My take on Bottom is very unique and my angle for performing is quite comical,” he said.

The lovely Shadow will appear as Robin Starveling's dog in Romford Summer Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's DreamThe lovely Shadow will appear as Robin Starveling's dog in Romford Summer Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Paul has been part of Romford Summer Theatre for 21 years and this is his third time in the play, having previously held the roles of Lysander and Oberon.

“When I played Lysander, I was the loving hero. Then when I played Oberon, king of the fairies, it was a regal part full of magic and mystery.

“Now, as Bottom, my role is much more about getting comedy across to the audience,” he said.

Paul, 51, of Aveley, Essex, described his work with Romford Summer Theatre as “very versatile”, giving him “the opportunity to show all sides of my acting”.

Flute (Will Atkinson), Snout (Peter Farenden) and Bottom (Paul Sparrowham) in Romford Summer Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Picture: Chrissie O'ConnorFlute (Will Atkinson), Snout (Peter Farenden) and Bottom (Paul Sparrowham) in Romford Summer Theatre's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Picture: Chrissie O'Connor

He added: “I really like what the group does. I like the idea of community that’s been around for 55 years that is giving culture.

“We’re passionate about that and we’re trying to move with the times.”

The production comes to Raphael Park’s Rockery from June 22, the night after Summer Solstice, for two weeks.

“This version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is still traditional in its setting, but there are certain liberties to not be strictly to the time,” said the actor.

“This play is one of the more accessible ones that Shakespeare wrote as it’s easy to follow and the story has three different strands that people can relate to.”

With the evening shows beginning at 8pm, as twilight turns into night, the picturesque setting will really add to the magical feel of the play.

“The places that Shakespeare wrote about were new so they were weird and wonderful and that’s what we’re trying to show,” added Paul.

“Some people are put off by reading Shakespeare but I feel that’s because it was designed to be performed to fully appreciate it.”

The combination of different elements, from the eye-catching costumes and make-up to the music and even a child actor and dog, helps to pull together the entertainment.

Paul believes Shakespeare’s plays offer “so much scope, due to there not being many stage directions, which allows you to explore between the texts”.

One character he would like to re-explore would be Oberon, as he would want to take a different angle second time round.

“I would really like to play Oberon as a supernatural being, as a spirit of the night.”

The group sees The Rockery as an ideal place for everyone to bring their families along to experience the joys theatre brings.

Speaking about performing in the great outdoors, Paul said: “You have to act differently. The minute that you’re outside the acoustics are different and you have to concentrate more because you have all the natural sounds around you.”

The productions at the summer theatre are known for attracting a “big audience, especially for a play where the audience can relate to one or all parts of the story”.

“We have a great team of actors who will really bring this play alive,” added Paul.

The production will run from 8pm on June 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30, and July 1. A matinee will take place on July 2 at 3pm.

Tickets are on sale now for £10, visit romfordsummertheatre.com.

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