The best open air theatres
Grab your rug and sausage rolls, ’tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action. Read on for our pick of the loveliest located open air theatres this summer in Oxon, Bucks and beyond.
Oxford Castle Quarter, Oxford, now until 11 Aug
Their eight week Shakespeare Festival kicks off with two hours of back-to-back abridged (me likey) Othello and Much Ado About Nothing from BMH Productions (so one hour of each, until 30 June). Followed by A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tomahawk Theatre) from 2 July to 28 July and concluding with Romeo and Juliet (Siege Theatre) from 30 July to 11 Aug. Fabulous setting in the old castle yard, bring a picnic or pre-order with your tickets from £16 for the performance and £8.95 for a standard picnic.
West Wycombe Park, Bucks
Sense and Sensibility, adapted by award-winning writer Laura Turner, follows Jane Austen’s Dashwood sisters as they enter regency society. Performed overlooking the lake on Thurs 26 July, bring a picnic, rug and torch to enjoy this bonnet-fest with the perfect backdrop. Adult tickets £16, children £10.
The Tempest is performed by brilliant all male company Lord Chamberlain’s Men – often seen performing around these parts during summer – on Wednesday 15 August, offering us Shakespeare’s great pontification on revenge and forgiveness. Adult tickets £16, children £12.
Stowe School, Bucks
Stowe’s South Lawn plays host to the world’s first cycling theatre company, The Handlebards. Touring round the UK on their bikes, this energetic theatre company present their seriously silly production of Romeo & Juliet on Wed 4 July. Adult tickets £15, children £8.
Waddesdon Manor , Bucks
Settle down on the lawn in front of the manor for the all male performance of The Tempest on July 21. Elizabethan costumes help bring to life one of Shakespeare’s finest plays. You can bring your own chair, rug, picnic and drinks (glass bottles allowed but plastic glasses only) or do as I do and forget the lot and let the insects bite your bum all night.
Waterperry Gardens amphitheatre, Waterperry, Oxon
If you missed it at West Wycombe, Chaperhouse Theatre takes us down the rabbit hole again with its Alice in Wonderland on July 27 in the Waterperry’s bijou amphitheatre. Bring your own picnic or you can pre-order from the Tea Shop. Tickets £11 – £45.99
Boxtree Productions’ take on Treasure Island on Sat 4 Aug includes original music and inventive staging to bring this classic to life. Tickets £10 – £14.50.
The 3 Musketeers by IKP on Sat 11 Aug promises swashbuckling action and fast paced wit in this family friendly performance. Tickets £8-£10
Cliveden Water Garden, Cliveden, Berks
The beautiful oriental-inspired garden with its six sided Chinese pagoda is the setting for this year’s theatrical offerings. Bring your own picnic or purchase nibbles from The Doll’s House cafe.
The Midnight Gang by David Walliams is performed by Heartbreak Productions on Thurs 2 Aug. A gang of kids meet at midnight to get up to mischief, magic and adventutres. Adult tickets £16.50, children £10
Old Herbaceous on Sat 4 Aug is a one-man show based on the classic novel by Reginald Arkell. A humorous story of a charming old head gardener and his passion for plants. Adults £16.50 (not suitable for children).
Have your hanky ready for this magical adaptation of E.Nesbit’s The Railway Children on WedS 8 Aug. Adult tickets £16.50, children £10.
Get the hairs standing up on the back of your neck with this spooking retelling of Sherlock Holmes’ The Hound of the Baskervilles on Thurs 9 Aug and Fri 10 Aug. Adult tickets £16.50, children £10.
Pendley Manor, Tring, Herts
More Bardiness, this time Much Ado About Nothing (1 to 5 Aug) and Richard III (8 – 12 Aug) in the stunning grounds of Pendley Manor Hotel. You can bring a picnic or push the boat out and have a pre-performance dinner in their award-winning restaurant (3 courses for £29.50). Tickets from £16 to £24.
Oxford University Parks, Oxford, 9 July – 11 August
Creation Theatre’s adaptation of childhood classic Swallows and Amazons takes place in Oxford’s beautiful University Parks. First performed at Bristol Old Vic, this adaptation written by Helen Edmondson and featuring music from Neil Hannon has been restaged to be performed outside but fear not, they have a big top on hand in case the heavens open. Adult tickets from £19, children from £14.
Open Air Theatre, Regents Park, London
The most famous of them all, Regent’s Park’s theatre is set within beautifully landscaped grounds where you can picnic on the lawns, enjoy food from the barbecue, café or covered dining and prop up the West End’s longest bar. As You Like It (6 – 28 July) and concluding with The Little Shop of Horrors (3 Aug to 15 Sept) and Dinosaur World Live (14 Aug to 9 Sept). Prices £25 – £55 apart from dinosaurs tickets which are £16.50. Pretty good value for top notch theatre.