The curtain rises on this summer’s open air theatre

Black Beauty.
Black Beauty.

AT some point we Brits are going to have a proper summer and what better way to spend an evening that sipping a glass of something cold and watching open air theatre?

In the hopeful expectation that the sun is eventually going to come out, make a date with some of the great stories of our time in the most picturesque of surroundings.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Be captivated by the magic of open air theatre set among the backdrop of Woburn Abbey, Willan Lake and Wrest Park.

Woburn hosts its performances in the grounds by its stunning Sculpture Gardens. This year’s summer season features a Shakespearean drama, a Jane Austen classic, an Oscar Wilde comedy and two fun family favourites, which will take place in all but the worse weather.

A few years ago I sat through Romeo and Juliet performed during a torrential thunderstorm. The cast kept one eye on the lightning and another on their soaked costumes and sword-fighting, terrified they might be struck - but they carried on and a hardy band of us stayed until the curtain sloshed down. It was actually rather thrilling and atmospheric.

Woburn kicks off with Anna Sewell’s family classic Black Beauty on July 7. PEEL Heritage brings the equine tale to life in a stylish and modern theatrical adaptation. As told through the eyes of the stallion, the story follows Black Beauty’s life as a work horse in the 19th century - from his carefree days on a country farm to a gruelling existence pulling cabs in London and his dark days down the mine (and don’t worry - no real horses will be used during the performance!)

On August 4 the ever popular Chapterhouse Theatre Company return with the first of two adaptations at the venue. Jane Austin’s Emma leads the way followed a week later (August 11) by Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Chapterhouse will also be presenting Sleeping Beauty on July 27 at Willen Lake, Milton Keynes, and Austin’s Pride and Prejudice at Wrest Park on August 16.

Gates open from 5pm and performances begins at 7pm.

Bring your family and friends (and blankets - it gets cold when the sun goes down), low back chairs, scrummy picnics and something chilled to drink and be transported away to worlds of romance, mystery, comedy and fairytales on a fine summer evening (fingers crossed!).

Refreshments will be available at Woburn to buy during the interval. Total running time is approximately 2 hours, with a 15-20 minute interval. For booking at Woburn call on 01525 290333.