The best open air theatre to see this summer
Make the most of the summer weather by seeing some of the very best outdoor theatre
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
There's a lot to be excited about in this year's Open Air Theatre season, which is artistic director Timothy Sheader's tenth season. First up is Drew McOnie directing Danny Mac and Lizzy Connolly in On the Town, which is about a group of sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York (19 May to 1 July). Sheader will then direct Matthew Dunster's new adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities (7 July to 5 August), and there will also be an family adaptation of Oliver Twist for everyone aged over six (17 July to 5 August). There's another chance to catch last year's award-winning production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar (11 August to 23 September). What's more, Declan Bennett and Tyrone Huntley have been confirmed to be returning for this year's revival, so it's sure to be a cracker.
Emma Rice's tenure at the Globe is coming to an end, but not before one final summer season. Titled "Summer of Love", the season sees ENO boss Daniel Kramer direct Romeo and Juliet (until 9 July), and Rice direct Twelfth Night , which she has promised will be 'The Love Boat meets Maggie Thatcher' (18 May to 5 August). Completing the season is Tristan Bernays' brand new take on the famouse British warring queen, titled Boudica (8 September to 1 October). There's also a chance to catch Kneehigh's Tristan and Yseult , Nancy Meckler's King Lear and if you fancy a play under the stars, book for one of the special midnight matinees.
St Paul's Church
Otherwise known as the Actor's Church, theatre company Iris Theatre produce a number of summer shows in the beautiful surroundings of the church and its gardens. This year will see the company turn ten years old, starting with a new production of Macbeth which will have you weaving in and out of the church and the grounds, and is inspired by the dark imagery of painter Hieronymus Bosch. Director Amy Draper will return to the church following her production of Much Ado About Nothing last year with a new adaptation of the Brothers Grimm's Hansel and Gretel.
Last year, The Scoop, which is right next to City Hall, held the premiere of a new Toyah Willcox rock musical Crime and Punishment. This summer it will be home to something a bit different, a three-part production of the Greek epic The Odyssey. Written and directed by Phil Willmott, the play tells the story of Greek hero Odysseus' journey home after the fall of Troy. What's more, it's completely free and there's no need to book a ticket. Just turn up and take a seat, simple.
River Stage Festival
Every summer the National Theatre plays host to a series of weekend takeovers in the theatre's courtyard beside the Thames. It's free and starts in late July, and sees companies like HOME in Manchester, 'the world's festival' WOMAD and east London outfit The Glory showcase the best they have to offer, ending with the NT taking over for the August bank holiday weekend. Expect eclectic live music, DJs, dance, cinema screenings and diverse work from across the world.
Best of the rest
In Chester, Glyn Maxwell's new production of Alice in Wonderland will run at the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, alongside productions of Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Each of the three shows will run both at the open air venue, and Chester's new indoor Storyhouse theatre, so the choice is yours.
Touring company Illyria will take five family productions of classic plays, including Pride and Prejudice, The Comedy of Errors, and The Emperor's New Clothes, to various locations around the country across the summer. If you're looking for a fun way to introduce the kids to theatre, check their website for the latest dates and locations.