REVIEWS: Company propel comedy play to great heights

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Our guide to the best things to watch, both at the theatre, and on television.

Theatre

MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, LYCEUM THEATRE, SHEFFIELD

Propeller Theatre have put their genius for inventive approaches to Shakespeare to good effect again with this lively and clever production of this much-loved comedy.

Director Edward Hall and his all-male cast wring the maximum fun out of fairy interference in the love lives of two young couples trying to find or avoid each other in the woods outside Athens.

Dan Wheeler and Matthew McPherson are brilliantly convincing with only minimal help from costumes and make-up as the warring friends Hermia and Helena.

Joseph Chance is a wickedly effective and charismatic Puck, who causes most of the chaos on behalf of his master, fairy king Oberon (Darrell Brockis).

The scenes involving the workmen ineptly putting on a play to entertain the Duke of Athens were hilarious, which isn’t always the case.

Chris Myles had a lot of fun as the endearingly overbearing weaver Bottom, who is turned into a donkey for a while.

Some excellent illusions are deftly pulled off to add to the magical atmosphere and Michael Pavelka’s set is a marvel of minimalism.

Clever use is also made of music, played by the actors on stage.

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Television

sunday 4pm: cedar cove, 5usa

Hard to believe it’s two decades since Andie MacDowell played Hugh Grant’s rain-oblivious love interest in Four Weddings and a Funeral. In the years since she seems to have been relentlessly plugging make-up, but now Andie is back in one of those cosy US dramas perfect for doing the ironing to. The new series, based on a novel by Debbie Macomber, centres on the Cedar Cove Municipal Court, and concerns Olivia Lockhart’s professional and personal life.

The supporting cast includes Dylan Neal as her love interest Jack Griffith, who also happens to be editor of the Cedar Cove Chronicle.

In this first episode, Olivia considers a career move that could cost her a new romance, and force her to leave her beloved home.

Despite the fact each episode in this run only attracted around two million viewers per episode in the States, Hallmark bosses were happy enough to greenlight a second season.

MONDAY 9PM, Britain’s great war, bbc one

Jeremy Paxman’s fascinating series has been exploring what life was like on the home front, as the country was forced to transform itself into a war machine, and civilians faced up to the possibility that they could become casualties too.

In this third part, Paxman looks at what the wreck of a U-boat in the Medway can tell us about Germany’s attempts to starve Britain into submission.

A Win the War Cookbook was released to help combat the situation, but food became a vexed subject, as the media pointed out that not everyone was being rationed - in Mayfair, the rich were still dining out on lobster - and hoarders were put on trial.

The nation’s morals were also a cause for concern, as the Government began effectively policing the public’s bedrooms, while a feature-length documentary about fighting in the trenches became a box office smash - but to what extent did it change attitudes towards the war?

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DVD box sets

bates motel - season one

All 10 episodes from this contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal thriller Psycho from the producers of Lost and Friday Night Lights. Socially awkward teenager Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) stumbles upon the lifeless body of his father. Soon after, the lad and his controlling mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), move to White Pine Bay in search of a new life. They purchase a motel and begin to integrate with the locals. However, Norma and Norman discover there are dark secrets in this idyllic seaside town and the only people they can trust are each other. The deeply twisted relationship between mother and son intensifies forcing Norman to make painful choices about his future.

the bletchley circle - series two

A group of former Second World War code breakers continue to put their unique talent to good use in four episodes of the ITV1 drama. This series, a Bletchley Park graduate is imprisoned under a murder charge and Jean (Julie Graham), Lucy (Sophie Rundle), Millie (Rachael Stirling) and Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) reunite to prove their friend’s innocence.

vikings - the complete first series

Old adversaries clash in nine episodes of the historical drama chronicling the adventures of a Viking clan. Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) is a chieftain, who is a formidable warrior on the battlefield, leading his men to bloodthirsty victory over bitter rivals.

Aided by his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) and wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Ragnar schemes to become king of all Vikings but there are traitors in his midst, plotting his downfall.