Among the highlights of Festival 2016 was the revival of Peter Hall’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: a truly magical interpretation of Britten’s work, not seen at Glyndebourne since 2006. It won numerous five-star reviews and high praise from audiences old and new, not least for the stellar cast led by Tim Mead in the role of Oberon. But it was an 11-year-old boy – David Evans – who got everyone talking…
‘Best of all, David Evans makes a brilliant Puck, a pint-sized ball of impish energy whose exuberance energises the whole performance.’
‘David Evans is a pure delight, whether turning cartwheels or flying through the air like a tiny Peter Pan, declaiming his verse like a veteran.’
‘Puck very nearly steals this delightful show in the form of amazingly assured 11-year-old David Evans, a tiny, shock-haired scamp who nonchalantly cartwheels through the woods to win the biggest ovation of the night.’
One glance at David’s biography reveals that he’s no novice. Now in the fifth year of his career, he’s already appeared on television in the long-running series Silent Witness and Peep Show; commercials for Mr Kipling, McDonalds and Nat West; and on stage in God Bless the Child at the Royal Court, Lord of the Flies at Regent’s Park Theatre and on tour, and in Qdos Productions’ Peter Pan. He is also the voice of Jasper in the Disney cartoon series The Hive.
Now back at home with his parents and preparing for school, we asked David about his experience of Glyndebourne – and opera – this summer…
You came on as the cover for Puck – how much notice did you have to get ready for the show?
Although I had done some understudy rehearsals already, I found out on the Monday night (1 August) and started rehearsing on the Tuesday morning, which was nine days before the opening night but only four days before the technical rehearsal in front of an audience!
How did you feel about playing Puck and making mischief on the stage?
I enjoy moving about the stage, especially on the branch. My fight scene with Oberon is bizarrely my favourite part of the show. I like it when the audience laugh at what Puck gets up to as well. Playing Puck is a lot of fun!
What was it like to fly across the stage?
Scary at first because of how high it goes – ten metres! But after I did it a few times I enjoyed it.
Did you like your costume and wig and how did it feel to wear them?
It gets very hot on stage with my costume, but I do like it. I love the wig, because it makes me look completely different even though it takes a while to put on.
Have you played any Shakespeare characters before, and what did you think about his language?
No, Puck is the first Shakespeare character I’ve played. His language is interesting and I had to have the meaning of some words explained to me. When I was in Year 5 at school, my year group worked on A Midsummer Night’s Dream so I already knew what the story was about before I was given the part.
What do you think about all the opera singing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
The singing is very good from all the cast, but it’s not the same as doing a normal stage production. I’ve found it interesting to listen to the different ways each person sings and also to the Trinity Boys Choir. I still think I prefer acting though.
If you could sum up your time at Glyndebourne in five words, which ones would you choose?
In one sentence:
The summer of a lifetime!
Exciting, fun, tiring, friendly, beautiful.
Have you read your reviews and what do you think of them?
My mum has shown me some reviews, but I haven’t looked for any myself. I’m pleased that so many people enjoyed my performance, and the company’s performances, and glad that I didn’t let Lynne [Hockney] down.
You’ve worked on television and on stage for five years – what has been your favourite job so far (apart from Puck)?
This is tricky. But probably Percival in Lord of the Flies because the role was interesting with a good story and my character was in it a lot. I also got to go on tour and travel around the UK and to Ireland so saw many different places.
If you could be a superhero who would it be and why?
Batman – because his costume looks cool! I’d love to swish about in a cape (a bit like Tim did as Oberon) and it would be good to rescue people.