Comedy of Errors @ Stafford Castle 28th June 2011

Daughter 1 gets to see her first Shakespeare play and she loved it! Mister’s brother and Mister’s brother’s wife also came along – Mister’s brother’s second Shakespeare play in a week and also in his entire life! He loved it too.

This was such a lavish production. We seem to be on a run of Shaky at the moment – not deliberate but just how they’ve come along (next stop RSC for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in August). You could tell immediately from the quality of the staging and cast that the budget for this was much bigger than for Romeo and Juliet, which we saw a couple of days previously ‘al fresco’ at Trentham Gardens.  But I digress.

We loved the castle setting, it was like a posh little festival complete with food and bar tents and dodgy toilets. This was our first time at the Stafford Shakespeare festival.

View from the above the stage

 The woodland path leading up to the castle was strung with lights for the occasion so that when it went dark it felt like a journey into a fairyland. There was something just magical about it.  Whoever made the decision to set the play  in early 20th century Italy got it just right – the set and the costumes looked gorgeous and fitted well with that particular play. All the performances were faultless and the casting just right. If I’m honest, this was the first time I had seen this particular play and I wasn’t sure I’d like it (I usually go for the tragedies) but it was such fun and there was such a lovely atmosphere that you couldn’t help but get drawn into it.  There was a pre-show, well, um…show, which was also really entertaining – loads of ladies in swishy skirts and men in swishy shirt sleeves playing folk songs, dancing with tambourines and telling jokes in fake Italian accents – just so cute. Daughter 1 – usually a thoroughly bored 21st century kid, completely lost her sense of not being bovvered and was dancing and clapping with everyone else with a massive grin.

swishy skirts and frilly shirts...

She also really enjoyed the actual play -I did wonder whether she would struggle with understanding it because of the language but it was so well performed and directed that it was easy to follow and she laughed along with everyone else in all the right places.

The weather held for us, although it got very cold late on, but at least it didn’t rain.

OK, so the weather report was a bit boring, I admit. It’s just that it’s quite difficult to be objective and critical about this production because it was all very lovely! I had heard reports that the Stafford Shakespeare festival was under threat after poor attendances last year and, happily, this year being my first, I am glad to report that ticket sales had improved and it looks as though we’ll be able to go again next year. If you can get there, verily, I most heartily recommend it.