WHEN Maddy Hill left her character of Nancy Carter in EastEnders behind in March this year she says she wanted her next job to be "totally different".
And her wish appears to have been granted thanks to a production of Shakespeare's classic A Midsummer Night's Dream which has just opened at the Southwark Playhouse and which she describes as like nothing you’ve seen before.
The 25-year-old graduate of Rose Buford College in Sidcup is taking on the role of Titania, Queen of the Fairies and Peter Quince, an unusual pairing she admits but one she is loving.
"It's bonkers and mad and definitely not for the purists," she laughs as we chat about the show.
“The great thing is that it works for people who are familiar with the play and have seen it hundreds of times as well as for those who haven’t, making it accessible for absolutely anyone - though I’d err on the side of not bringing young kids!
“It will be different - in fact I doubt it’s been done like this before - we’ve stripped it right down and brought it up to date a bit, but it brings a whole new level of glee to it.
“There is also a lot of innuendo and we’ve ramped up the gags which is always good and we have flipped the whole thing on its head and brought in some modern language - in fact it couldn’t be less faithful to the original text but it’s so much fun.
“For those who know it, it will be recognisable but for those who don’t know it, they will be able to understand it and follow it.
“Rehearsals have been very funny,” she adds chuckling. “There are only seven of us actors covering 17 parts and it’s been brilliant fun and there has been a lot of corpsing.”
Maddy says she jumped at the chance to be in the production, her first since leaving EastEnders, not least because she gets to play two very contrasting roles as well as revisit Shakespeare and his plays.
“As soon as the script came through I was immediately hooked,” she says. “I love Shakespeare and this is up there as one of my favourite plays of his - the play within a play and the mechanicals are some of his finest pieces of work.
“It’s light and magical and takes you to the summer immediately and I think it earns its place as a favourite amongst many people.
“I was also desperate to do something different after leaving EastEnders and this couldn’t be more so,” she adds.
“I had done as much as I could at the time with the character and it was the right decision to leave.
“The two roles here are brilliant to play and it was a no brainer really. Besides when am I going to get to play them again? I also knew that if they were casting characters like this it would be a production that wouldn’t take itself too seriously and I liked the idea of that.
“I also realised when I started rehearsing this, all the elements of working on stage that I had missed and I’ve relished it.”
Despite the tinkering they have done with Shakespeare’s original text, Maddy insists that there will be much to enjoy.
“I think Shakespeare would have approved,” she says warmly. “There are no rules to this production. I think Shakespeare was up for a laugh - he wrote it with a lot of humour and I think he’d have been in full support of what we have done.”
And after the run at the Southwark Playhouse, a venue she’s looking forward to performing in, she’s off to the Globe later this year to take on the title roll in Matthew Dunster’s play Imogen, a new feminist spin on Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.
“Having been confined to the screen for so long it’s great to get out on to the stage,” she says. “I’m really excited about going to the Globe, another stage I’ve not performed at before - so no pressure!” she adds laughing.
But for now, the focus is on the Dream and she hopes audiences will be positive about it.
“I think opinions will be divided but I hope we won’t offend people,” she says. “It definitely won’t be boring.”