NOW is the second summer of Pop-Up Shakespeare Theatre on the Castle car park, by Tower Street, in York.

As many as 80,000 people saw North Yorkshire impresario James Cundall's Lunchbox Theatrical Productions company launch his new venture last summer.

From Tuesday, Lunchbox and the Shakespeare's Village edifice return for ten weeks with a tragedy, Hamlet, a history play, Henry V, a comedy, Twelfth Night, and a late play, The Tempest.

Maggie Bain, from Netflix’s Black Mirror, made the spring headlines when cast by Gemma Fairlie as Henry V; David Oakes, from ITV's Victoria, will play the Danish Prince in Hamlet; Olivia Onyehara and Mark Holgate, from last summer's company, take on Viola and Orsino respectively in Twelfth Night; and Sam Callis, from Game Of Thrones, will be a towering Prospero in The Tempest.

After picking Scottish-born Bain for Henry V, Fairlie reasoned: "We auditioned a huge range of actors of all genders for this role, but no-one quite captured the complexity of the character like Maggie.

"Henry is such an iconic figure for the English, he is sometimes more myth than man. But we have to understand why thousands followed him into battle, while also seeing the weight of that responsibility for the nation on his shoulders. Henry has a wit, a charm and a charisma that is infectious, and Maggie has that in spades.

"I know that the audience will fall in love with Henry through her, while hopefully questioning how constructed the public persona of a king is by seeing a woman play a man."

Reacting to that endorsement on the first day the company gathered in the rain in the shadow of Clifford's Tower, Maggie said: "That feels good! It feels amazing to have that support and to have this opportunity, having read Shakespeare's plays all my life and fallen in love with them, but not having had the chance to do such a role when you're in a conventionally cast production.

"Gemma saw me performing in Man To Man, Manfred Karge's play, in a new translation by Alexandra Wood, which I first did at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 and took to New York in 2017.

"It's a one-woman show about a woman surviving the Second World War by disguising herself as her husband Max, pretending to be a Nazi day by day, but within her psyche we see all the jeopardy and all the fear."

Bain's performance, her expression of a character's psychology, stuck with Fairlie, and now Bain must draw on that again as she performs in York for the first time in her first ever visit to the city.

This summer's Hamlet, David Oakes, recalls visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre as a child. "I remember the smell and making a coin," he said. "I've been working on Victoria, playing George, the Duke of Clarence, for the past two and a half years, filming in places like Harrogate, so I've been over to York too.

"The last time I was in York, I came to Clifford's Tower and I remember a woman saying, 'What are you doing here!'"

For playing Hamlet, David has "deliberately ignored anyone else's interpretation". "I'm going to say the words my way and have fun saying them , and that is my only objective," he said.

"I have no agenda. My father is still alive, and I'm not going to do a Daniel Day-Lewis by suddenly leaving the show!"

Sam Callis has appeared in The Tempest once before. "I was Ferdinand [the Prince of Naples] at the Old Vic, with Derek Jacobi as Prospero, so no pressure there, then, to follow that performance!" he said. "But I feel excited. Prospero is a really fascinating character, who goes on this long journey to forgiveness and I'm not sure if he ever gets there."

He can't wait for the first performance of The Tempest on June 26. "As a group of actors, we transform ourselves into characters, just as the car park here is transformed into a theatre," he said. "That's the magic of theatre: the potential that lies within that space."

Shakespeare's Rose Theatre in Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's Village, Castle car park, Tower Street, York, June 25 to September 1. Box office: 01904 623568 or 0844 847 2483 or at

Charles Hutchinson