If you like to have your Shakespeare in the Great Outdoors, you have plenty of options at the moment.
Like Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre, Union Theatre of Solihull likes to get outside on an annual basis, and when it presents Romeo and Juliet from tonight until Saturday at Manor House Gardens in High Street, Solihull, it will be members’ 22nd annual outdoor production.
The Crescent Players will be with A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Hall’s Croft, Stratford-uupon-Avon, on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, All and Sundry take A Comedy of Errors to Bromsgrove’s Avoncroft Museum, and MDCC Theatre will be at Stowe House, Lichfield, with Henry V, which is a bit of a rarity among outdoors productions.
Meanwhile, I have just had my first experience of Shakespeare, 17th-Century style, at London’s Globe Theatre – and it really needs a capital E for experience.
It was a superb production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, to which I recommend anybody with a yen to see something special in surroundings that are somewhat different.
The production wraps modern gestures in period costume and the sight of Ford’s silent 21st-Century delirium behind a tree when he overhears that Falstaff has been thrown into a river is one of many memorable moments.
* Walsall’s Grange Players seem to be on the crest of a wave. Tickets for the entire run of their production of Rebecca, which does not begin until July 10, sold out in a week, and this has been the case throughout the season with the exception of the first play.
Oddly, sales went through the roof just after the ticket price increased.
* Highbury Little Theatre is planning an open day that will include a Jake Thackray Festival and concert, plus a writers’ workshop by comedy playwrights David Tristram and Raymond Hopkins.
Tristram’s The Secret Lives of Henry and Alice and The Little Grimley Trilogy, and Hopkins’ Love Begins at Fifty have both been presented at the Sutton Coldfield venue in the comparatively recent past.
The Henry and Alice production included the very cleverly faked death of a goldfish.
Well, it beat me and I was sitting only four feet away from its bowl in the studio production. The fun runs from 10 am to 4.30 pm on Saturday, July 19.
* Part of the excitement attached to Birmingham youth group Stage 2 is that you can’t imagine what kind of drama the youngsters will tackle next to give themselves a new mountain to climb.
This time around, the answer is William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, adapted by Nigel Williams, which follows a group of young children alone on an island – and their transformation into barbarians.
It’s an unedifying tale and a tremendous challenge for the young people who tell it.
It will unfold at the Crescent Theatre from July 23-26.
* Halesowen’s Startime Variety is performing Journey To Victory, a show that in part is based on the years of the Second World War, from tonight for the rest of the week.
As one who, 59 years ago, did his eight weeks’ National Service squarebashing as a raw recruit to the RAF, I was fascinated to learn that group member John Wunderlich, then aged 21, joined the Territorial Army in 1978 for two years – and undertook a two-week course which consisted of the equivalent of 10-16 weeks of army training.
Moreover, when it was all over he was presented with a silver goblet inscribed with his name and company for getting the most points.
Suddenly, I feel worn out.
Journey to Victory does contain songs from many modern musicals as well as the old wartime ones. It is being staged at the Cornbow Hall, Halesowen.
* How big are a greenfly’s kidneys? That’s me, in vacant or in pensive mood, beating off boredom and having moved down a notch from pondering the urinary efficiency of the average ant.
When there is apparently nothing doing in the world about me, I am happy to sit and nurture the nonsenses by which my brain cell is apt to be besieged.
And another thought that has idled into my consciousness is this: has anybody ever written a play about boredom? I don’t know of one, but that does not prevent there being a few dozen about which better-informed theatregoers could tell me.
But assuming that there isn’t one, it would be a brave and particularly talented citizen who managed to fill the void successfully. The coward’s way out, which I am presently adopting, is merely to scribble a scatter of paragraphs that can be assimilated and disposed of in two minutes flat.
Far more risky to turn boredom into a major topic, spread it across a stage for two hours, and hope that trusting patrons will raid their piggybanks and descend on it in delighted droves.
That’s why I suspect that has possibly never been done, but I’ll be fascinated to find I’m wrong. By the way, I have now learned after half a century of marriage that my wife doesn’t think greenflies have kidneys, and she reckons it’s the same with birds, for observational reasons that surely have no place in a family newspaper.