The thing about theatres is they get a bit narky when you bring a box of sarnies and a six-pack into their shows. That’s no problem with this lot of summer plays, all taking place in the great outdoors. So pack yourself and your friends a tasty hamper of food, bring some blankets, and snuggle down for a bit of culture, gentle evening sun, and some tasty bites. Here are seven of our picks for the season…
Her truths may not be universally acknowledged in the 21st century, but there’s still plenty to love about Jane Austen. 2017 is the 200th anniversary of the great author’s death, so Chapterhouse Theatre Company are honouring her with a staging of the classic love story between a reet sarky lass and a brooding grump, filled with nineteenth-century zingers and sumptuous costume. Bring your family along, too. After seeing how embarrassing Lizzie Bennet’s lot are, you’ll appreciate them a lot more.
Sunday 13 August, 7pm, Nottingham Castle
It’s an old story; woman falls for man who likes to dress up as a lady fortune-teller. Man proposes. Woman finds out, on her wedding day, that man has a murderous Jamaican wife locked in his attic. Murderous wife escapes and sets fire to the house. Aye, we’ve all been there. Cheers for that, Tinder. You can get the full experience of Charlotte Bronte’s masterpiece, adeptly adapted by playwright Laura Turner, at either Wollaton Hall or Nottingham Castle; both suitable backdrops for this gothic romance.
Sunday 9 July, 7pm, Wollaton Hall
Saturday 15 July, 7pm, Nottingham Castle
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has already become a musical courtesy of West Side Story, but Oddsocks Theatre Company have added an extra pop of fun in their irreverent mods and rockers take on the Montagues and Capulets. A tragic tale it may be, but with crowd-pleasers like The Boys are Back in Town running through the drama, it also promises to get your feet a-tapping and heads a-bobbing.
Saturday 22 July, 7pm, Nottingham Castle
Another clever mix of cheese-tastic songs and tragedy; this staging of the Scottish play will have you veering from horror, to laughter, and back again. Witness a woman with murderous ambition and her obliging husband try to influence the fates with witchcraft and a hearty dose of stabbing, only to be haunted by madness, ghosts, and the stirring sounds of, among others, Meatloaf. Truly a dark and terrifying punishment.
Friday 21 July, 7pm, Nottingham Castle
There’s no place better to watch a beloved country fable than in the grand expanse of Wollaton Hall on a summer’s evening. Surrounded by Wollaton’s own British wildlife, you can follow the adventures of Ratty and Mole as they patiently follow their friend Mr Toad’s thirst for thrills that go way beyond trying to find a rock to sit on at the nearest pond. Expect dangerous driving, prison escapades, and a battle with mansion-stealing weasels, as well as plenty of musical frolics.
Friday 14 July, 6pm, Wollaton Hall
One for both kids and adults here, in one of Hans Christian Anderson’s cheerier stories. Two con artists’ bare-faced cheek leads to a bare-arsed Emperor (no actors were stripped in the making of this production) when they try to capitalize on the ridiculousness of pride. They would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for one meddling kid who didn’t know when to keep their bleddy mouth shut.
Friday 11 August, 7pm, Newstead Abbey
Northanger Abbey at Newstead Abbey; we see what you did there, smarty pants. This is another slice of Jane Austen, starring a young woman who lets her imagination run away from her after one-too-many gothic novels, and starts to believe there’s all manner of mischief and mystery going on in the abbey where she’s staying. If you’ve ever tried to surreptitiously check if that pasty, emo hipster in the local Starbucks casts no reflection because you watched True Blood one too many times, you’ll empathise.
Friday 18 August, 7pm, Newstead Abbey
The Outdoor Theatre season runs from July until September this year, and you can book tickets by calling 0115 807 7900 or by visiting the Nottingham Heritage website.