Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears: Merely Theatre’s Accessible Productions Promise To Reveal Shakespeare

Merely Shakespeare specialize in bringing fresh life and a new dimension to Shakespeare’s immortal words in a new UK tour, promising audiences will get it first time.

Shakespeare should be seen and not read. Shakespeare wrote his scripts for the stage, and Merely Theatre will take two of his best loved plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Henry V, across the country this spring. The company will perform over forty shows in nearly twenty venues throughout England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. What’s more, they promise audiences will not only understand the shows, but fall in love with their humour, energy and insight.

Their five-hand productions of Henry V and A Midsummer Night’s Dream will tour the country, supported by public funding by Arts Council England and produced by The Production Exchange. The tour begins on January 22nd at the Uppingham Theatre and concludes on May 7th at the Kings Theatre, Edinburgh. Full details and booking information is available here.

The company, which uses a company of ten actors (five male, five female) to put on gender-blind five-hand productions, love to be on the front foot at all times, with high stakes and a booming energy running through their work. But amidst the anarchy, they fight constantly to earn their expressiveness with clarity. It is the foundation stone of their work, and makes them surprising to those who haven’t yet developed an ear for Shakespeare.

The effect has already been witness first-hand. One reviewer for Everything Theatre began her review of Merely’s Henry V saying, “I detest Shakespeare’s histories. I find them tedious, dry and dull,” only to conclude by calling their production, “…the most clear and concise Shakespeare production I have ever seen… Poignant and moving, yet shockingly funny at all the right moments… They’ve got future audiences out there that need to be educated as to what Shakespeare could and should be in this modern generation."

Those audiences now have a chance to see the shows for themselves, making it the perfect time to introduce first-timers and young people to Shakespeare. The company might even change a few minds amongst those who have seen confusing productions in the past.

Audience members in Greenwich took a shine to the shows in previews, saying, “My first play ever and I really enjoyed it! I will definitely be coming back again,” and, “it was fantastic! I am not really knowledgeable on Shakespeare, but this showed just how accessible it can be!”

Company actor Robert Myles says the company make it their business to be understood, “In Merely, we take our responsibility to communicate seriously – we mine the text for detail and hammer in as much clarity as possible. By doing so, we can bring the audience with us, sharpening their ear as the play rides along. And that’s just the foundation, which we build on with energy, comedy, emotion… It brings the plays to life, and it’s why we sweat so much on stage.”

Henry V tells the story of young King Henry’s famous victory at Agincourt while outnumbered, but underestimated, by the French. A Midsummer Night’s Dream playfully depicts the comically intertwining tales of feuding forest gods, midnight elopements and staging a theatre show. The shows are cut to just 90 minutes each.

Theatre Critic Lyn Gardner has written on how it is best to get children into Shakespeare when they are young, “I reckon that no child is too young to get a taste of Shakespeare… Definitely before children have been exposed to the misguided idea that Shakespeare is primarily there to be studied to pass exams rather than to entertain.”

Artistic Director Scott Ellis said of the tour, “We’re bringing our work nationwide for the first time, after two years in London working together and honing our style. We’re a young company, but we love Shakespeare, and we want to share the joy and enthusiasm and energy that comes from that. We’re sweaty, we’re bold, and we strive for clarity in context, making the shows both understandable and real.”

About Merely Theatre: The actors, the audience, the text. Merely is characterised by playful use of space and audience interaction. Their dynamic, irreverent but focused use of text ensures modern audiences are as engaged and entertained as when the words were written. For more information please visit:

About The Production Exchange: The Production Exchange is a charity whose objectives are to support early career practitioners in the furthering of their skills and access to resources to develop their craft. For more information please visit:

Contact: Emmy Rose, Associate Producer, Merely Theatre
Phone: +44(0) 7708 822 306

Contact Info:
Name: Emmy Rose, Associate Producer
Email: Send Email
Organization: Merely Theatre
Phone: +44(0) 7708 822 306

Release ID: 100897