It’s summer, so that means the fab feast of Shakespeare at the colleges is just around the corner
All of Cambridge (almost) becomes a stage once again this month as our annual Shakespeare Festival returns from 10 July to 26 August. Taking place in some of Cambridge University’s most beautiful college gardens, the festival has been enthralling audiences with ageless tales of romance, war, magic, tragedy and farce for over 30 years.
It offers a programme of eight plays each year, attracting some 25,000 annually during its eight-weeks or so summer run, and has earned a name for itself as one of the UK’s premier arts festivals.
As the CSF website proudly proclaims, this is a “tour de force of Elizabethan drama”, serving up dynamic, vivid performances of the Bard’s best-loved works in full period costume. Guests gather on velvet lawns, drinking wine and picnicking while they enjoy the shows; dusk turning to night, creating a magical atmosphere.
As always, the programme is split into two parts, beginning with four shows running from 10 to 29 July. Among their number is Antony and Cleopatra, one of Shakespeare’s greatest love stories, which plays at Robinson College’s Gardens. Written around 1606, this heady tale of romance gone awry has it all: love, passion, scandal, war, death – and an ending about as dramatic as they come.
Also playing, this time in the grand gardens at King’s College, is Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s sparkling battle of the sexes comedy. Sparring partners Beatrice and Benedick enjoy nothing more than winding each other up, and seemingly nothing can bring them together (even if their friends have other ideas). Claudio and Hero on the other hand are deeply in love and preparing to wed, but thanks to the scheming Don John, their romance takes a rather complex and unexpected turn…
Also running in the first half of the programme is All’s Well that Ends Well, which will be performed in the intimate courtyard at Downing College. This courtly drama, which yields romance and intrigue in abundance, sees Bertram fleeing his home in France – and his fiancé Helena – to join in with the Italian wars, believing he can shirk his responsibilities. Helena, however, has other ideas and embarks on a quest to get her man back, by hook or by crook.
Finally, the festival welcomes Hamlet – a play with a reputation so lofty it needs no introduction. Hamlet, a young student, returns home to his family home to discover his father has died and his mother has married his uncle. Visited by the ghost of his deceased father, he plots vengeance while contemplating his own mortality.
All shows start at 7.30pm and adult tickets are priced at £16. Part two of the programme, which runs 31 July to 26 August, features The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear and Romeo and Juliet. Stay tuned to the next issue of Edition for all the details.