the Owle Schreame return with a wild, raucous, drunken version of A Midsummer Night's Dream from the 1640's, originally adapted for illegal performance whilst theatre was outlawed. FIRST PRODUCTION IN OVER 350 YEARS!

A Midsvmmer Nights DROLL.jpg

 In 1642 Theatre was made illegal.

Theatre didn’t die.

Without a stage, without costumes or props, one man made it his mission to keep performing and to keep British theatre alive – stitching together half-remembered Shakespearean scenes and strange medieval interludes, soaking them in sex and violence and bawdy, unintellectual humour.
So it was that a strange and dangerous new type of illegal theatre was born: The Droll.


Midsummer Night’s

at VAULT Festival 2019


A Midsummer Night’s DROLL

VAULT Festival, 13-17 MArch, 21:00, £15

About thirty(ish) Droll scripts survive (the Owle Schreame has performed almost half), and of these bizarre, bastardised and boisterous sketch comedies one of the most famous and most popular was an extraordinary adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, shifting Bottom to centre stage as the star, cutting out the lovers completely, and delving even deeper into renaissance fairy folklore. This is Shakespeare for the criminal masses, with no intention of ever nearing an aristocratic ear or eye. It is the earliest definite performance text we have of a Shakespearean play, the earliest Shakespearean adaptation in existence, and the only performance version made by actors familiar with Shakespeare's original productions. “The Merry Conceited Humours of Bottom the Weaver” is a fascinating, important play which has remained unperformed since the Interregnum.

Until now.

Filled with folk costume, live music, medieval puppetry and rowdy Fools, the Owle Schreame's A Midsummer Night's DROLL is rough, thrusting historical comedy designed for (and by) a drunken, bawdy crowd of peasants, prostitutes and thieves. This is illegal Shakespeare as even Shakespeare couldn't have imagined it. Combining Historical Original Practice with stand-up comedy and immersive theatre, the Owle Schreame recreate something of the rough, raw, tongue-in-cheek, beer-in-hand approach that Drolls were designed for; the first company to touch them since the 17th century.

The Drolls challenge the safe, friendly, elitist and intellectual notions we have of the Shakespearean stage, cutting it all away in favour of rough pantomime, carnival, sex, farts and shouting. No other professional company has staged the Drolls since the 17th century, and all but the most specialist of scholars are completely ignorant of the fact that they ever existed. This was incipient sketch comedy for the working man, performed in pubs and back alleys hundreds of years before the first comedy club or black box studio space. We redress the balance of historical theatre and look to bring back a taste of the rough, visceral, populist street performances that existed alongside the likes of the highbrow, classy alternatives.


"Hilarious. It’s rip-roaringly, grotesquely, anarchically funny. There is no fidelity to Shakespeare here: the only fidelity is to whatever scenes, songs or debauchery would hold the attention of whatever restless, half-shot audience could be cobbled together." more…

The Skinny
"a hysterical, stomach-achingly funny version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream ... a stroke of genius ... nothing will prepare you for how concentrated the comedy becomes. The actors feed so constantly off the audience that we seem to all lose our heads at the same time ... left the whole room quite literally breathless with laughter ... The whole ensemble seem giddy and in their element together on stage, heckling each other when lines are botched and delighting in each other’s – and our – rowdy mirth ... If you’re after the kind of intense laughter that counts as exercise, you’ve found a show to work out to." more…

The Edinburgh Guide
"a fresh and original take on a plot and set of characters that have already been hammed up on countless previous occasions. ... the raw energy of the actors and the sheer pace of the performance ... make for a very engaging and oddly uplifting show. It is a useful reminder that British silliness has a very long and disreputable history." more…

Cast & Creative

Directed & Produced by Brice Stratford
Costume & Props by Amelie Rousseau & Laura Romer-Ormiston
Puppets by Laura Romer-Ormiston

Edinburgh 2018, VAULT 2019, Touring 2019, Edinburgh 2019

Bottom / Pyramus - Brice Stratford
Quince / Oberon / Duke / Prologue - James Carney
Flute / Pugg / Egæus / Thisbe - Dan Van Garrett
Snug / Titania / Dutchess / Lyon - Laura Romer-Ormiston
Starveling / Fairies / Lord / Moonshine - Duncan Hendry
Snout / Fairies / Wall - Jonathan Ashby-Rock
Snout / Fairies / Wall - Marco Violino

Chicago 2018, Poland 2018, Touring 2018

Bottom / Pyramus - Brice Stratford
Quince / Oberon / Duke / Prologue - James Carney
Flute / Pugg / Egæus / Thisbe - Dan Van Garrett
Snug / Titania / Dutchess / Lyon - Laura Romer-Ormiston
Starveling / Fairies / Lord / Moonshine - Holly Morgan
Snout / Fairies / Lord / Wall - Tom Moores