Enjoy a night – or several – with the Bard in August
The Shakespeare Revue
7.45 and 2.30pm, 9-20 August, £18-£28
See the Bard in a whole new light at Cambridge Arts Theatre this month, when The Shakespeare Revue comes to town. Billed as “an evening of sparkling sophistication and unabashed fun”, it features sketches, skits and songs inspired by Shakespeare and written by a host of comedy greats.
Originally presented at The Barbican by the RSC before moving to the West End, the show is being revived in honour of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A cabaret-style musical performance, the show epitomises the civilised charm of the revue, featuring material by Victoria Wood, Alan Bennett, Monty Python, Noël Coward, Cole Porter, Fry & Laurie and many other luminaires of British comedy. Offering an affectionately mocking take on our nation’s greatest playwright, critics have been effusive in their praise for The Shakespeare Revue, with The Sunday Times describing it as ‘scintillatingly funny’ and Time Out calling it simply ‘Hilarious’.
As You Like It at Ely Cathedral
7.30pm, 24 August, £8-£10
In the ornate splendour of Ely Cathedral, enjoy a production of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies. Treading the boards will be CAST, aka Cambridge American Stage Tour, a group established under the patronage of Dame Judi Dench 17 years ago. Devised with a goal of bringing the work of Shakespeare to as many people as possible in the eastern United States, the group (consisting of talented Cambridge actors, directors, designers and technicians) travel across the Atlantic to perform a new show at schools, colleges and in theatres.
For 2016, the show will be As You Like It, Shakespeare’s comic tale of pastoral love, cross-dressing, murderous plots and mistaken identities. Directing is Marthe de Ferrer, who offers a modern slant with live music, lots of ribbons and a bohemian aesthetic.
Cambridge Shakespeare Festival
7.30pm, until 27 August, £12/£16
Enjoy performances of Shakespeare’s works performed in some of the city’s most beautiful gardens as the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival enters the second leg of its programme this month.
With the gorgeous backdrop of Trinity College’s gardens as the setting, The Comedy of Errors runs until 20 August. A play which shows Shakespeare at his comic best, this farcical tale of mistaken identity and slapstick frivolity sees two sets of twins with no knowledge of each other’s existence causing mass confusion in Ephesus.
Serving up a bloody study in morality, power and leadership, Henry V plays at St John’s College Gardens until 20 August. Leading his band of brothers “unto the breach”, a young King Henry is on his way to becoming the most celebrated sovereign in England’s history: but at what cost to his conscience and his subjects will he pursue glory?
In the beautiful natural amphitheatre of Robinson College gardens, journey to King Leontes’s court in an icy cold Sicily with The Winter’s Tale. Blending tragedy and comedy, this story of love, loss and reconciliation features one of the most famous (and famously problematic) stage instructions ever written into a play in Act III, Scene 3: “Exit, pursued by a bear”. See how it’s tackled up until 27 August.
Finally, pastoral comedy As You Like It ushers vivacious heroine Rosalind to centre stage at King’s College Gardens. Running until 27 August, this rich romantic comedy is the full of wit, wisdom and song, offering the perfect accompaniment to a picnic and a bottle of wine on a summer’s evening.
All the above plays in the festival begin on 1 August. Coriolanus, Twelfth Night, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream got the first half of the festival under way, and continue until 30 July.