Friday, July 23, 2010

"Much Ado In The Park...And Remembering A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Last week, a boy (aged about seven?) cuddled on his Dad's lap while they nibbled sandwiches and sipped juice... as together they watched Shakespeare's " Much Ado About Nothing" in a striking setting in a midcity park.
The production was part of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, presented by Chester Performs ( ).
The play runs for several weeks through July/August. This year is the Open Air Theatre's inaugural year... and going on last week's splendid performance, Cestrians will soon be hungering for more.
WHICH REMINDS ME: the boy with the sandwiches. He appeared permanently the play, not necessarily the sandwiches! Each time I glanced across, he was watching the action intently: Hero and Claudia, Beatrice and Benedick....and I bet those images...the sights and sounds he experienced, plus the music, the natural setting used so cleverly ( mature trees, acres of sky, England in twilight..) ...along with the fun of lots of people gathered on a darkening summer night...will be remembered by that little boy for always.
ON just such an evening years parents took me to watch a celebrated local drama company's production of " A Midsummer Nights Dream". The venue was the gardens of Eaton Hall, home of the Duke of Westminster... and the director was Peter Dornford May, well known throughout the county. This was my intro to Shakespeare ... and also to outdoor theatre... and I never forgot it.
OF COURSE that play was ideal for such a night....the theme itself...the characters: Noblemen, Ladies, Bottom, Titania, Puck, Cobweb and Mustardseed...and of course Pyramus and Thisbe (!)...and yes, there was the wonderful new-to-me language: " I know a bank wheron the wildthyme blows".... and the cracking " You spotted snakes with double tongue!" .... All of it was magical. All of it was memorable.
BUT then I WAS lucky. My parents were superb at creating "memorable occassions". My childhood is like a long necklace of beads....some beads more vivid than others....these beads are often ones my parents added: eg. a yellow seashore in very early morning...the black drama of a cruel storm at midnight...a silver-grey ancient turreted house where peacocks strutted on wide green lawns....a tiny whitewashed cottage on moors above a wild Welsh sea...the list goes on. But that visit to Eaton glitters on the necklace too and lies there in all its vivid colour...
SO I HOPE that several decades on... that the little boy in Grosvenor Park looks back on " Much Ado" ( and back on his dad) with the same grateful affection...
AND I suspect there's a chance that he will...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i saw that production of Midsummer at Eaton Hall - wasn't a teacher from Queen's in the cast? Blonde woman - P.E.?
Sophie's mum

4:47 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Hello Sophie's Mum!
You may well be right!I think we probably share a lot of this city's Ancient History!!!
Good to hear from you and hope to meet you in person sometime.

9:08 am  

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