Much ado about something or other

There can be few places in London as enticing and magical as the Regent’s Park open-air theatre. On strolling through the rose gardens, past cafes and expansive lawns, it would be all too easy to miss the almost hidden entrance, camouflaged in trees and wood, that leads to the fairy tale world beyond.

The glowing outdoor bar is the first pleasing sight that hits you and leads you to the outdoor theatre beyond. Here, trees and sky form part of the stage, and birds and wildlife are a part of the drama.

There’s a particular intimacy of the audience, all gathered outside in the open air, some seated on grass verges at the stage edge, others on chairs, but almost everyone picnicing and sipping wine to relax and wind down at the end of the working day: a collective, eating, drinking and entertainment experience. I don’t think we cheated by enjoying a picnic and fizz in the park in the sunshine first.

The fairytale-like magic is heightened when the drama’s a Shakespeare play like last night’s performance of Much Ado About Nothing: it’s easy to feel transported back to the 17th century and an England reliant on nature and agriculture. This is an easy, enjoyable watch, with the summer sunset and ‘hey nonny nonny’ music adding to the relaxing atmosphere, and a great cast including Samantha Spiro as Beatrice (Coupling and Cold Feet, so boldly good, she could be mistaken for Minnie Driver’s sister in this) and Silas Carson as Don Pedro (instantly recognisable from Spooks and Hustle)

An outstanding night out 8.5/ 10

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