Blenheim Palace Shakespeare

Round & About

Shakespeare

Enjoy a Bard classic at Blenheim Palace pop-up theatre

The sumptuous surroundings of Blenheim Palace are playing host to Europe’s first-ever pop-up Shakespearean theatre over the summer. 

Four of The Bard’s most well-known plays will be performed in the 13-sided traditional Elizabethan Rose Theatre which features three tiers of covered seating for 560 and an open courtyard for 340 standing ‘groundlings’. 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Richard III and Romeo and Juliet transport allow audiences to an intimate atmosphere full of breath taking, spine-tingling and heart-stopping moments courtesy of two companies of actors over a nine-week season which runs until 7th September. 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s funniest comedies. Four friends, all in love with the wrong person, set out into the woods and come across the fairy king and queen arguing. When the king, Oberon, decides to fix things using the juice of a magic flower, things start to go very wrong for everyone. 

In contrast, Macbeth mixes blood, tension, witches, ghosts and a kingdom in crisis in the tale of a toxic marriage, crushing ambition and murder. 

Richard III tells of a villain who murders his way to the crown. He woos the woman whose husband and father-in-law he has killed, has his two young nephews murdered in the Tower of London and is finally crowned Richard III, but along the way he makes some serious enemies. 

Warring families is also very much the theme of the most famous love story ever told – Romeo and Juliet. The son and daughter of two respective feuding noble families fall in love but know their love is forbidden and must marry in secret with fatal consequences. 

Pop-up theatre

The performances are daily at 2pm and 7.30pm. For details of which play is being performed when and to book tickets, visit

Much ado outdoors

Round & About

Shakespeare

Summer wouldn’t be summer without a spot of open-air Shakespeare, and Progress Theatre is bringing Much Ado About Nothing to Reading’s medieval Abbey Ruins.

Written right at the end of the 16th century, Much Ado About Nothing is, of course, a comedy, albeit one with a hint of darkness. It also explores the meanings of loyalty, chivalry and true love.

In this al fresco production Progress Theatre shifts the time and place of the story from Italy’s Messina to an English country house at the end of World War II.

Director Trevor Dale, a veteran of many local Shakespeare productions, says: “One of the key elements of this play is the speed with which the romance emerges – these aren’t people who can afford the luxury of a long courtship. The war in Europe is over, but people would have been mindful of the continuing conflict in the Far East.

“Historically, there was a lot of social change at this time than after World War I, and so much of the humour and conflict comes from the difference in the social positions of men and women. So I wanted to highlight the strength of women in relation to men.

He continues: “Being outside really adds to the show – Shakespeare’s plays would originally have been performed in an open-air theatre. On top of that, the Abbey makes for an amazing backdrop and that alone is a reason to see it.”

Much Ado About Nothing is at Reading Abbey Ruins, from Wednesday, 11th July until Saturday, 21st July.

To book a ticket, visit www.progresstheatre.co.uk

Cross Country

Round & About

Shakespeare

A Shakespearean comedy for Candlemas cycles into Capron House in Midhurst this month, as the lads from the Handlebards present Twelfth Night.

The Handlebards, comprised of Paul Moss, Callum Cheatle, Tom Dixon and Callum Brodie, have an eco-friendly ethos as well as a love of the Bard!

They have been touring the country, and further afield presenting plays by Shakespeare while pedalling hard between venues carrying all the costumes, scenery and camping gear on their four bikes. They are joined in their cross-country capers by the girls, who when they return from Asia will be touring the country with tales of star-crossed lovers.

Twelfth Night tells of Duke Orsino who is in love with lady Olivia, but she won’t have anything to do with suitors. Viola is shipwrecked and believes her twin brother Sebastian to be dead. She pretends to be a boy and becomes a servant to Orsino. Olivia falls in love with Viola, believing her to be a boy, whilst Viola falls in love with Orsino. Then Viola’s twin turns up…

Meanwhile, Sir Toby Belch (Olivia’s uncle), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (his friend), Maria (a maid) and Feste (a jester) plot to make a fool out of the pompous Malvolio (Olivia’s head steward).

Book your tickets for Twelfth Night on May 30th at 6.30pm for tickets for this evening of riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos. They’ll also perform at Guildford’s Electric Theatre on 27th. Visit www.handlebards.com