Theatre and book reviews by Janice Dempsey
... well, perhaps not easy, but a lot more fun than the other seasons in Britain. I love the season of summer festivals and open-air theatre productions that we're into now. In Surrey we're fortunate to have a lot of great old houses and castles with grounds that adapt beautifully to productions of Shakespeare's plays.
On 5th July I was lucky enough to be at BurntOut Theatre's production of "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Clandon Woods Natural Burial Grounds, near Guildford. In this idyllic corner of the Surrey Hills, an audience was treated to an afternoon of pure entertainment. In a meadow full of daisies and ladies’ lace we sat beside a still green lake while wit and an improbable story of young lovers and a villainous plot played before our delighted eyes.
The BurntOut Theatre Company specialises in productions of classic drama in unusual settings. This production, directed by Clemmie Reynolds and James Ball, of Alison Skilbeck’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing” transposes the action from Renaissance Italy to Surrey in the 1920’s, The play takes on a new resonance...
[All the photos below are published with permission from © Marina Leigh unless otherwise stated.]
We loved the way that the male contingent (in the first scene, Don Pedro (Alexander Scrivens) leading his party home from the war; in the second half, Dogberry leading the Watch) was always seen in the distance minutes before they arrived, marching down the long winding path to the lake; Boraccio and Conrad as dodgy private detectives; the way Benedick is duped, to great comic effect, while doing his laundry. The singing friar, James Reynolds, enhances one of the more pedestrian speeches in Shakespeare’s text. Leonato is rewritten as Lady Leonato, convincingly played by Emily Swain.
I'm pleased to hear that the BurntOut Theatre Company are to receive Arts Council funding - it's fully deserved.
I would like to apologise for two errors in my first posting of this review, now corrected. James Ball, not Alexander Scrivens, was the co-director and played Verges; Alexander Scrivens, not James Ball, played Don Pedro and Seacoal.
They're taking "Much Ado" to Wintershall, Guildford on 15th - 20th July 2014 - get your tickets here
The photos below were taken by Dónall Dempsey on 5th July 2014