Drama, comedy and romance under the stars

THE value of open air theatre was never felt more keenly than in the early days of the pandemic.  A recent survey has even found that venue-based theatre companies have a lot to learn from the versatilty and determination of those who found a way to entertain when indoor gatherings were banned (unless you lived or worked in Downing Street)

The tours are now under way, and many delighted audiences have already enjoyed a chance to battle for the best spot on the sward, set up their folding chairs, tables and exotic picnics, and watched a play as the light goes down.

As always, William Shakespeare is an important feature of the summer tours, and these productions are often the way younger audiences are introduced to the Bard on stage.  This year there are three Midsummer Night’s Dreams and three Twelfth Nights, two Much Ado About Nothings, along with a Romeo and Juliet, an As You Like It  and a King Lear.

Then there are adaptations of classic novels – Pride and Prejudice, Alice in Wonderland, Jayne Eyre, Peter Pan and Peter Rabbit. There are three entirely original shows, and new versions of familiar favourites.

Some of the shows are aimed at younger and family audiences, with others more suitable for a grown-up evening outing with friends.  There really is something for everyone.

With audiences growing in confidence again, and masks no longer mandatory, the chance of seeing a play in the fresh air is more appealing than ever, and tickets will sell out fast.

Visit the Open Air Theatre section of the FTR for more details of each company, what they are performing, when and where.

Here is a very basic list of who is touring what.

Bash Street Theatre – The Cameraman.
Chapterhouse Theatre – Cinderella, Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet.
Festival Players – A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Folksy Theatre – Alice in Wonderland, Much Ado About Nothing.
Handlebards – Twelfth Night.
Heartbreak Productions – Awful Auntie, Jane Eyre, Much Ado About Murder, Twelfth Night.
Illyria – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Pan, The Pirates of Penzance.
The Last Baguette – King Arthur
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men – As You Like It.
Miracle Theatre – Everyman, King Lear.
The Pantaloons – Much Ado About Nothing, The War of the Worlds.
Quantum Theatre – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Rabbit, The Reluctant Dragon.
Rain or Shine – The Recruiting Officer.
The Rude Mechanicals – Gods and Dogs.
Slapstick Picnic – The Importance of Being Earnest.
Three Inch Fools – The Gunpowder Plot, Twelfth Night.