Family-friendly take on classics in a fine setting
Two open-air performances of much-loved tales from classic literature are to be staged within the picturesque setting of The Old Palace in Lincoln.
Chapterhouse Theatre Company will bring Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, specially produced for families, which will be performed in the garden of the hotel in Minster Yard.
The Lincolnshire-based company is currently touring six productions to more than 100 venues across the UK and Ireland, visiting some of the most beautiful country houses, castles and heritage sites, idyllic garden settings and theatre venues.
Directing both the shows to visit The Old Palace is Rebecca Gadsby, who says it's not just the children who've been enjoying Wind in the Willows.
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"I have been quite taken aback by how much adults are enjoying it as well," she says. "Of course it's a children's favourite but I think it's taking audiences back. But the children do get absolutely mesmerised and it's funny because you often see groups of little ones drifting towards the stage.
"We have kept true very much to the relationship between Mole and Ratty. They are animals but with human qualities. And then there is Toad – when he goes on trial it involves some audience participation as they get to be the jury. And because we have this medium of theatre we can add a bit of magic to it all.
"I've been working with our set designer Pete Eldrig who has been with Chapterhouse for quite a few years. I wanted to work with this idea of the set being like a pop-up storybook so things aren't necessarily perfectly realistic, such as these large, over-sized flowers which are all spotty and different colours."
Audiences who head along to see Sense and Sensibility can expect a script that sticks to the classic story.
Rebecca says: "We have built a reputation with Chapterhouse with our period dramas. We have been putting on these productions since 2007; before that it was just the children's shows and Shakespeare.
"I am a huge Jane Austen fan and Sense and Sensibility was the first period drama we did in 2007. What I wanted to create was a theatrical adaptation of the novel. I wanted to stage the actual stories rather than anything quirky because I don't think you need to – the story is so lovely and works so well with these beautiful outdoor venues we are visiting. The ladies in their Regency dresses look just like they are meant to be there.
"This adaptation has been written by Laura Turner who has done a fantastic job. And The Old Palace is such a stunning venue – perfect for both these productions."
Sense and Sensibility will be performed on Sunday, September 1 at 6pm (gates open 5pm) followed by The Wind in the Willows on Sunday, September 8; on at the earlier time of 3pm as it is aimed primarily at families.
Audiences are encouraged to take rugs or low-backed seating to the events and refreshments will be available from the hotel. People are also welcome to take picnics. There will also be a bar open during Sense and Sensibility but not during The Wind in the Willows.
The plays will carry on in bad weather unless it becomes impossible to continue, so everyone is advised to head along prepared.
Tickets: £12 adults, £8 children and £36 family (two adults/two children). There is also a discount of 10% on The Wind in the Willows for parties of 10 or more. To book call The Old Palace on 01522 580000, Lincoln Drill Hall on 01522 873891 or Lincoln Visitor Centre on 01522 545458. Find out more at www.chapterhouse.org