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Best outdoor theatre in Warks and beyond

It's time to venture outside and access some much-needed culture - hurrah! So, without further ado, we present the best outdoor theatre to book now.

Fancying a picnic by the river and catching a comic play? Casting has been announced for this summer’s production of The Comedy of Errors which welcomes audiences back at the RSC in a brand-new open-air Garden Theatre.

The Comedy of Errors runs between July 13 and Sept 26 in the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. This specially constructed outdoor performance space is located in the Swan Theatre Gardens, flanked by the River Avon and overlooked by the Swan Theatre.   

Shakespeare’s shortest and arguably most farcical comedy, directed by Phillip Breen, was due to be part of the RSC’s 2020 season, but was postponed owing to the pandemic. The 17-strong cast includes members of the original acting company, with several roles recast. 

Jonathan Broadbent and Greg Haiste, in his RSC debut, retain their roles as, respectively, Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus. Jonathan received rave reviews for 2014’s My Night with Reg  (Donmar Warehouse & Apollo Theatre) and his screen credits also include The Crown, Silent Witness, EastEnders, and Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptations of The Magic Flute  and As You Like It

Hedydd Dylan (Adrianna), Guy Lewis (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Rowan Polonski (Antipholus of Ephesus) join the company; while original cast member Avita Jay will now play Luciana. Welsh actor Hedydd’s previous RSC credits include Oppenheimer, The Shoemaker’s Holiday and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She’s also appeared on TV in BBC 4 thriller Hinterland and Welsh soap Pobol Y Cwm.

Director Phillip Breen, whose previous RSC directorial credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Provoked Wife  and The Hypocrite, said: “When we first conceived of this Comedy of Errors back in 2019, we had no idea that the production would welcome the RSC’s audience back from a global pandemic. But this play of family reunions – people finding each other once again, people holding each other at sunset – seems entirely apt for this moment, and we can’t wait to get back to work with this fabulous company of actors; with this old play on a new stage for this very new world.”

After its Stratford-upon-Avon run, the play will then go on tour and perform indoors at The Theatre Royal, Nottingham (Oct 22-24), The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (Oct 27-30), and the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (Nov 2-6, with London plans to be confirmed. 

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Want more outdoor action? Try these:

Hill Close Gardens, Warwick, until 1 Jul

Theatre and a jazz quartet? We can’t think of anything more glamorous. Catch Heartbreak Productions’ adaptation of The Great Gatsby – and enjoy a cocktail or two – in the Hill Close Gardens.

Packwood House, Lapworth, 14 Jul

If you’re feeling ever-so-refined, catch Gilbert and Sullivan’s hugely popular operetta, The Pirates of Penzance at this National Trust property. The farce is a guaranteed hit for any age group, so why not gather up the whole family for a musical evening under the stars?

Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, 7 Aug

One for the little ones – join Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger on a wild adventure in The Wind in The Willows, made all the more exciting by the outdoor setting. This seems like the perfect antidote for summer holiday blues (and is only an hour and a quarter long, so you can still have the evening for yourself). 

Oxford Castle and Prison, 9th – 21 Aug

Still searching for your Shakespeare fix? Hop across the border to Oxford Castle for Much Ado About Nothing. Head to the courtyard to see this classic (and raucous) comedy, full of love and misunderstandings. Just make sure to pack an umbrella as you’ll be without cover for the duration. 

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