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City of London’s open air theatre returns to Wanstead Park with Shakespeare

PUBLISHED: 17:20 04 July 2017

The cast of Wind in the Willows, one of four open air plays the City of London is putting on this summer. Picture: City of London

The cast of Wind in the Willows, one of four open air plays the City of London is putting on this summer. Picture: City of London

City of London

If you go down to the woods today you might not find a teddy bear’s picnic, but instead a fantastic Shakespeare production performed between the trees.

Cast from Wind in the Willows, one of four open air plays the City of London is putting on this summer. Picture: City of LondonCast from Wind in the Willows, one of four open air plays the City of London is putting on this summer. Picture: City of London

The City of London is putting on four open air plays this summer, with three next to the beautiful Temple, in Wanstead Park.

The first show will be Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors on Friday, produced by touring group Illyria returning for its 26th season.

The story follows two sets of identical twins, separated at birth, who unknowingly end up in the same city.

Shakespearean humour naturally brings the characters together with comedic consequences.

Illyria has relocated the play to Ephesus, in Mexico, and it is accompanied by a five piece Mariachi band, resplendent in ponchos and sombreros.

“The outdoor setting provides a really unique experience,” said Shelley Ross, visitor operations manager at Epping Forest.

“It’s very dramatic, which is particularly fun for children, and it avoids the stuffiness which sometimes puts people off the theatre.”

Shelley hopes it will attract people who don’t usually attend the West End, as it is a relaxed and family friendly environment.

As well as Shakespeare, in August Illyria will be performing Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes and Pride and Prejudice.

The City of London is also producing The Wind in the Willows in Chingford, which promises to be “a very interactive show”, according to Shelley.

This is the tenth year that it has put on open air theatre in Wanstead and Epping Forest, and Shelley is particularly excited about the return of Illyria.

“We know how to run this, we are looking for people to come along and enjoy the shows,” she said.

“I’d encourage people to bring a picnic, we are selling refreshments, it’s a really unique experience and not stuffy at all.”

The Comedy of Errors is by The Temple, in Wanstead Park, on Friday July 7 from 6pm to 9.30pm. Tickets are from £14.95 and can be booked here bit.ly/2quRF9U. The Emperor’s New Clothes is on August 10 and Pride and Prejudice is on August 20.


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