Shakespeare In (and Out of) Love, Amateur Players at Paddock Gardens, Sherborne

AMATEUR Players of Sherborne was the first non-professional company in our region to mount a show following the first lockdown of 2020, and their Waiting for Godot in the Paddock Gardens was such a success that they decided on the same venue for a Shakespearean compilation this year.

Dress rehearsing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the 20+ cast evidently relished director Martin Williams and his co-writer John Crabtree’s cut-and-paste job on The Bard’s thoughts about lurve. And when you listen to these familiar (and not so familiar) snippets from 11 plays and a couple of sonnets, you rapidly realise that there was NOTHING about the psychology and reality of love that Shakespeare didn’t understand.

Jessica Colson is the narrator, reading the clever script that wittily untangles the stories and weaves the themes of the plays into an entertaining arc, all backed by music selected and played by MD David Grierson.

The company ranges in age from teens to septuagenarians, some of the youngest of them studying drama at the start of what they hope will be successful professional careers. What better learning ground than with some of APS’s most experienced actors?

Patrick Knox brings a whole new angle to the famous Enobarbus speech from Antony and Cleopatra, not declaiming a Shakespearean set piece but chatting to his mates about the Egyptian Effect of the mesmerisingly theatrical Queen of the Nile. His reading of the sonnets also underline their timelessness.

Adrian Harding’s transformed Bully Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a joy – how he must have practised that neigh!

Sheenu Das and Richard Jones made love at first sight a convincing proposition as Miranda and Ferdinand from The Tempest, as did Liam Beard and Eloise Salisbury’s Romeo and Juliet.

Sarah Nias was an exceptional Viola (Twelfth Night), Kate (Taming of the Shrew) and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing – it would be good to see her in one or more of the complete plays.

The performances are on Sunday 15th and Sunday 22nd August in the Paddock Gardens, which allows a socially distanced audience with excellent sight lines and good acoustics.

See this show if you can, and congratulations to the entire team for putting on a vibrantly enjoyable entertainment again, in this second year of uncertainty.


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