Tom Chambers on why everyone should visit the 'truly magical' Watermill Theatre
As part of our Regional Theatre Focus at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, the Crazy For You actor reflects on his time at the venue
The Watermill Theatre is a truly magical experience for both performer and audience. It's an escape to another land - a 'faraway tree' adventure and retreat from real life.
As you enter the village and theatre grounds, you are instantly charmed by the stream and green banks with willow trees and ducks crossing the road, slightly delaying your journey into the wooden – and in my mind somewhat Austrian – chalet of a theatre mill.
A beautiful set of rustic but warm barn conversions housing a restaurant with delicious buffet lunch food, and a ship-like, thick tree wooden bar, complemented by the original mill wheel and river passing under the auditorium. It is a dreamlike place. It's a fantasy, fairy, midsummer night delight chapter book that you will pine for and want to return to regularly for another dose of mental luxury, massaging your inner being.
The performer is surrounded by inspiration to enhance theatrical creativity and the audience has the most intimate of theatre experiences, in which the theatrical space is practically giving you a hug.
I will never get to repeat that chapter we had creating and nurturing Crazy For You in the living, on-site campus, family friendly Watermill environment, but I wish and envy the same experience for the lucky souls who get the opportunity to perform, or watch a show at this must-visit haven of a lifetime.
The Watermill Theatre should be on everyone's 'desert island disc' places to visit. It remains for me a memory I shall cherish for a lifetime. I shall always revisit those memories and hope to revisit in person with my family when they are old enough to make it an annual, if not seasonal event.
If only the Watermill would now develop forest log cabins for overnight stays, so we could make the experience last longer than just a few theatrical hours!