Open air Shakespeare in some of Norfolk and Suffolk’s most stunning settings
- Credit: www.dochurst.co.uk paul hurst
Some of our region's most beautiful historic venues are among the backdrops for a touring production of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors this summer. Arts correspondent Emma Knights finds out more.
From Norwich Cathedral to Somerleyton Hall - Shakespearean comedy is set to be played out in the surrounds of some of Norfolk and Suffolk's most stunning settings.
The Lord Chamberlain's Men (TLCM), a modern-day incarnation of Shakespeare's original troupe of players of the same name, recently kicked off a 2017 tour of The Comedy of Errors, and as part of that the performers will be taking the Bard's tale of mistaken identity to four places in our two counties.
First up is Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, where TLCM will be visiting for the first time next Tuesday. Meanwhile the show is also taking to the stage at Norwich Cathedral on July 14 and 15, Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds on July 16, and Holkham Hall in north Norfolk on August 30.
One of Shakespeare's earliest plays, The Comedy of Errors follows two pairs of identical twins, Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus, and their servants who are both called Dromio.
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When they were babies, the twins and their parents were separated in a shipwreck; now, years later, as one half of the twins search for the other they unwittingly find themselves in the same city on the same day.
'I can't think of anything more perfect for a summer's evening than a classical retelling of this great play set against the background of some of the nation's most beautiful outdoor venues,' said TLCM's artistic director Peter Stickney.
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'This hilarious summer comedy is a complete joy, but with Shakespeare it's never that simple. He elevates what could just be a story of mistaken identity to new levels with questions about relationships, family and personal identity so that alongside the confusing and hilarious circumstances, the characters are dealing with bigger questions of love and loss before, ultimately, redemption.'
The Lord Chamberlain's Men, featuring an all-male cast of seven players, are well known for performing Shakespeare's plays just as they would have been presented in the great playwright's day with Elizabethan costumes and traditional music and dance.
Mr Stickney said that this time they have decided to add a twist to their new production, taking Shakespeare's references to setting the play in Ephesus one step further and reflecting the Ottoman Empire in their stage design and the performers' attire.
Mr Stickney said: 'People can expect a real feast visually. The set is fantastic and very evocative of the period and place, likewise the costumes.
'It's also told in classic The Lord Chamberlain's Men style, it's men playing women, it's fast and furious but bold and clear.'
The show is travelling to beautiful locations all over the country, but 36-year-old Mr Stickney's local links perhaps make the East Anglian dates extra special.
He grew up in Saxlingham Nethergate and went to Long Stratton High School and the Hewett School before heading to Oxford School of Drama, and he credits his time with the Norwich Theatre Royal Arts Courses from 1997 to 2000 as being where he first discovered his love of theatre.
Fast forward to 2017 and he is now celebrating his first full year as artistic director of The Lord Chamberlain's Men, a company he has been involved in since 2007 when he joined the cast of Romeo and Juliet as Lady Capulet.
The Comedy of Errors is the first show he has fully directed for the company.
He said one of the joys of taking the production to the various open air locations was the individual charm of each of the venues.
'Somerleyton Hall is absolutely stunning and we are performing in the garden by the hall, Norwich Cathedral is really striking and we are performing in the cloisters there. At Holkham we are in the beautiful walled garden,' he said.
'They are such magical places to see and to watch the sun go down, and then add to that being drawn into a performance of one of Shakespeare's fantastic plays, it's a really wonderful experience.'
For more about The Lord Chamberlain's Men, visit www.tlcm.co.uk
Norfolk and Suffolk dates for The Lord Chamberlain's Men's production of The Comedy of Errors:
? Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, Tuesday, June 6, 7.30pm, tickets £15 adults,
£10 children - to book visit
www.somerleyton.co.uk or call 01502 734901.
? Norwich Cathedral,
Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15, 7pm, tickets £20 adults, £18 concessions - to book visit
www.cathedral.org.uk/shakespeare-festival or call 01603 630000.
? Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, Sunday, July 16, 6.30pm, tickets £17 adults
(£20 on the night), £10 children (£12 on the night) - to book
visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth or call 0344 249 1895
? Holkham Hall, in north Norfolk, Wednesday, August 30, 6.30pm, tickets £15 adults, £10 children, £45 family (two adults and two children) - to book visit www.holkham.co.uk or call 01328 713111.