The Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival will be returning this summer, bringing outdoor theatre back to Wales in the process. Things will look a bit different to previous editions, the last of which was in 2019: this year’s festival will of course be following the latest Welsh Government regulations, with measures in place to keep casts, crew and audiences safe, including reduced audience numbers to enable social distancing. (Tickets must be booked in advance due to limited numbers, to adhere with government guidance.)
Assisted by funding from the Third Sector Resilience Fund for Wales Phase 2 Scheme, the festival – devised by Welsh theatre company Everyman, active since 1983 – is touring for the first time, taking place both at Insole Court in Llandaff, Cardiff, and Tredegar House in Newport.
Everyman 21, as this year’s offering it also known, delivers a great lineup of theatre, with some classic pieces brought to life. Shakespeare’s Richard III (Cardiff Tue 6-Fri 9 and Mon 12-Sat 17 July; Newport Mon 19-Sat 24 July, all at 8pm), directed here by David Mercatali, dramatises the story of Richard Of Gloucester, who will it seems stop at nothing to make his way to the throne.
And then there’s the E Nesbit classic The Railway Children (on the same dates as Richard III, but with all shows beginning at 6pm), a much-loved early 20th century novel adapted for stage, the sounds and sights of the railway, plus main characters Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis are sure to rekindle childhood memories. A move to rural Yorkshire presents the aforementioned trio with unforeseen challenges – will their strength and resilience overcome it, and what does the 9.15 to London have to do with it all…?
Intrigue continues with The Rose And Crown (Cardiff Sun 11 and Sun 18 July, both 2pm; Sun 18 sold out): by J. B. Priestley, and set amidst the postwar austerity of 1946. Following the lives of working-class characters who patronise the pub of the title, they’re a mixed bag, yet predominantly down in the dumps – one character excepted. Then a stranger rocks up at the bar, an uptick in general mood resulting. And finally, another dose of Shakespearian regality: Henry V (Cardiff Sun 11 July; Newport Sun 25 July, both 8pm) chronicles that 15th-century English monarch’s nine-year reign, replete with myriad battles and directed here by Sarah Bawler.
Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival, Insole Court, Llandaff, Cardiff / Tredegar House, Newport, Tue 6-Sun 25 July. Info: 0333 6663366 / www.cardiffopenairtheatrefestival.co.uk
words EMILY EDWARDS
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