On Saturday Dan and I went to go see A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by the Chapterhouse Theatre at Exbury Gardens.
It was my first time seeing Shakespeare performed live, and also my first experience of outdoor theatre. Overall I enjoyed the experience, despite ending up cold and wet and feeling like the play went on just a bit too long. I didn’t know the story of the play before I saw it and I was kind of expecting it to end when (as in most Shakespeare comedies) all the love affairs resolved and everyone wandered off to get married. Instead it carried on into the play within a play part, which was very well and comically performed by the players, but felt a bit pointless seeing as the main storyline was all wrapped up. I don’t know what Shakespeare was doing there – but my opinion may have been tainted by the fact that I had been, not heavily but persistently, rained upon for half an hour before we even got to the play within a play bit.
The weather was a shame, it had been a gorgeous day. By 6 when they let us into the grounds there was still a lot of sunlight, but the performance and audience area was in the shade. It got cooler as the evening wore on and by the time the play started at 7.30 it was decidedly nippy. We had come prepared with coats and newly purchased spotty folding chairs, we had an umbrella but made the mistake of leaving it in the car. But the lesson learned was that it wasn’t prepared enough. Others had full waterproof outfits, tables, lamps, blankets, tarpaulins and all sorts of other accessories to the enjoyment of the English countryside.
Next time we’ll have to have all the extra bits. As it’s getting on a bit in the year there’s unlikely to be another opportunity for picnic based entertainment until next summer. But I’m definitely going to go to outdoor plays again.