Dan and I just got back from a weekend away in Stratford-on-Avon, it was my birthday treat.
We wandered around the very lovely town and saw various houses that Shakespeare and his relatives had lived in. We went to see Romeo and Juliet performed by the RSC at the Courtyard Theatre. It was very well done, with a twenties/thirties look and feel. It was my first time seeing Shakespeare performed indoors and the first time I had seen a tragedy performed (films don’t count).
Despite their mighty punmanship I didn’t go into the Shakespearience Centre, but I enjoyed having a giggle at the name. And in immature fashion we made sure to add the words ‘ye olde’ to the front of anything we talked about, and to ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ frequently.
As well as all of the Shakespeare stuff Stratford-on-Avon also has a butterfly farm. Walking in to the greenhouse the first surprise was that some of the butterflies were as large as my hand. The second surprise was that they were tame and happy enough to land on us. The butterfly farm afforded me a chance to get acquainted with my new camera lens and I got some pretty cool photos (by my standards anyway).
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.