The summer hasn’t really been up to much this year, so it was a bit of a punt to book tickets to this year’s outdoor Shakespeare. But we did, and hoped for the best.
The venue has changed from The Dell at the botanical gardens, to Civic Square. The tickets invited us to bring along a picnic, before sternly warning us that this was a no-alcohol area. Where’s the fun in that? Is it that rioting Shakespeare fans have caused trouble at previous years’ gigs, accosting innocent members of the public and quoting the bard at them? I don’t know what the rationale for the move was, but we decided that a quick dinner beforehand would be a better course of action.
As the Entertainment book year is drawing to a close, I checked to see which venues we hadn’t patronised in a while to get our discount from. Turns out we’ve not been to Foxglove in ages, and there’s a deal to be had there. So off we went, and enjoyed a tasty dinner. We then walked along the waterfront to Civic Square, and took our seats.
They had roped off a corner of the square to set a stage and control access to the seating. It was a cool evening and I wished I’d brought a sleeved fleece instead of the bodywarmer, but at least it wasn’t raining. We grabbed a programme which gave us a summary of All’s Well That Ends Well, and watched as they took the stage.
All's Well That Ends Well is one of the least-performed of Shakespeare’s comedies, and it’s easy to see why. It’s just not very funny. Added to that are the problems of performing outdoors, where there’s no echo, so the vocal delivery has to be robust at all times. This meant that there was no subtlety in the delivery of the lines. Whose side we’re supposed to be on is a bit of a mystery as well, as no-one behaves particularly well. Due to its location, bemused passers-by stopped to see what was going on from over the parapet, at one point severely impeding the progress of one of the actors in his delivery. Overall, not the greatest performance we’ve been to. Ah well, let's see what next summer brings.