Shakespeare comedy and children's shows at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
- Credit: © Jane Hobson
A futuristic masked version of Romeo and Juliet, a Broadway musical, top stand ups and children's theatre are on the programme for the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre.
The 2021 season kicks off on June 17 with Isabel Adomakoh Young and Joel MacCormack as the star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare's classic.
"It feels incredible to be making theatre again but I have never done a production before where I have checked the weather so much," says director Kimberley Sykes, who had to reschedule outdoor rehearsals during a rain soaked May.
Testing twice a week, having back-ups for every part, and wearing masks in rehearsal are just part of the "extra pressure" of staging a production during Covid.
"It's not quite knowing what will happen and planning measures so if anyone tests positive we can keep moving forward with the show, but we have learned in the last year to live with uncertainty and there is a lot of hope in the rehearsal room."
Adomakoh Young and MacCormack have formed a bubble to enable the intimate scenes, but the remaining cast of warring Montagues and Capulets are socially distanced.
"How do five young people end up dead in the space of four days in one town? asks Sykes.
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"What was strong in my mind was how dysfunctional Verona seemed to be, how little empathy the characters have for each other. They way Romeo and Juliet feel for each other is more special because they see what it feels to walk in another person's shoes. Going with that concept none of the other characters will touch each other - not because of Covid, audiences don't want to see a play about Covid but because they are not comfortable round each other."
With stylised fight scenes, a female Tybalt and a post apocalyptic setting, Sykes promises a dynamic 80 minute show.
"I wanted to create a show that felt very contemporary that people would be able to watch and see their own experiences, but at the same time not too contemporary or you have to deal with mobile phones and someone could say 'why doesn't he just text her?'
"The nurse says there was an earthquake 11 years ago when she lost her daughter and husband, and that resonated with me. We imagine it happened in 2021 - the earth responding to greed, selfishness and capitalism, humans not taking care of the earth. Now it's 2032 and what they learn is that Romeo and Juliet will keep happening - young people with continue to die if we don't look at what we are doing wrong as a human race."
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel runs from July 31 directed by artistic director Timothy Sheader, and for children there's a co-production of Anansi The Spider with Unicorn Theatre aimed at 3-7-year-olds followed by Dragons and Mythical Beasts for ages 3 upwards.
Sunday nights will see a top line up of comics including Luisa Omielan, Aisling Bea, Jimmy Carr and Paul Chowdhry, and a comedy fundraiser for the Trussell Trust featuring Lolly Adefope, Bridget Christie, Ed Gamble, and Suzi Ruffell.
A 20th anniversary screening of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! and a screening of The Shining by The Luna Cinema are also on the bill.
The season runs until September 25. Tickets and info from https://openairtheatre.com/