Stamford Shakespeare Company returns to Tolethorpe Hall for summer

The renowned Stamford Shakespeare Company returns to the incredible setting at Tolethorpe Hall next week with its much-anticipated annual season of plays

By Brad Barnes
Friday, 3rd June 2022, 11:10 am
The outdoor theatre at Tolethorpe Hall
The outdoor theatre at Tolethorpe Hall

The Company has four fantastic productions lined up, running June 7 through to August 27:

Hay Fever by Noel Coward

Noel Coward’s wonderful play is set in the 1920s and full of brilliant prose and scintillating wit.

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Stamford Shakespeare Company's Romeo and Juliet

David Bliss, a novelist, and his wife Judith, a retired actress, are hoping for a relaxing weekend in the country with some guests. However, unbeknownst to them, their high-spirited children, Simon and Sorel, have invited guests of their own. A houseful of drama waits to be ignited as misunderstandings and tempers flare in this hilarious comedy.

Spider’s Web by Agatha Christie

A comedy whodunnit from the ‘Queen of Crime’. Clarissa Hailsham-Brown, wife of a diplomat, is adept at spinning tales of adventure, but when a murder takes place in her drawing room she finds real life drama much harder to cope with. Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests.

Hilarity ensues when they are interrupted by the arrival of wry Detective Inspector Lord. The play contains tension and laughter in equal measure in an intricate tale of murder, police, drug addicts, invisible ink, hidden doorways and secret drawers.

Stamford Shakespeare Company's Hay Fever

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Following its postponement in 2020, Tolethorpe Youth Drama Theatre Makers are delighted to finally bring to life this modern classic.

This powerful story of a group of schoolchildren’s abandonment on a desert island, which gradually descends into a savage fight for survival. This electrifying production with a strong ensemble cast is not to be missed.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Stamford Shakespeare Company's Romeo and Juliet

It is the summer of 2022 and a group of unsuspecting tourists gather at a rather special place in Verona.

Suddenly, time shifts to the Early Renaissance and before us unfolds the greatest love story ever told. Shakespeare’s immortal tale of star-crossed lovers, whose forbidden love is cut tragically short by the uncompromising hostility of their two families, endures through history. It is charged with passion, bloody revenge, bawdy comedy, thrilling swordplay and, of course, some of the most beautiful language ever written.

The production was well into rehearsals, the set had been built and many of the costumes had been made when the pandemic hit in 2020 and the Company was sadly forced to close its doors.

It had been hoped to include the production in the 2021 summer season, but the restrictions and social distancing meant it was impossible to perform such a passion-charged play. So, the costumes were mothballed and the set was covered over to protect it from winter weather.

Now, at last, everyone is back working hard to produce Shakespeare’s immortal tale of star-crossed lovers. The beautiful Early Renaissance period costumes are near completion, and the set is being repaired before painters transform the bare wood into a late 15 th century Italian street scene, complete with requisite balcony. The cast, who have been waiting so patiently, are back in the rehearsal room once more, working their socks off.

A few of the roles have been recast as some of the younger members of the cast are now at university and, tragically, Nigel Kuhn, who was to play Lord Capulet, passed away two weeks after the end of last year’s season.

The show is directed by long-serving Company member Sally Franklin. Sally, the daughter of founder member Chris Coleman, joined the Company as a young girl in 1969 when productions were staged at The George Hotel in Stamford. After university Sally returned to the Company, now based in the grounds of Tolethorpe Hall, joining the cast of Richard II.

Over the years Sally has appeared in many productions, including playing Juliet twice, the latter of which she appeared opposite Mick Franklin playing Romeo. This was a case of life imitating art, as, though the show ended, the love carried on, and Sally and Mick were married in 2013.

Bringing fresh ideas to such a well known and well loved play is always a challenge, but it is a challenge Sally relishes. Her vision for this production sees the cast transforming from modern day tourists in Verona to the familiar characters of Shakespeare’s play.

“Although Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy,” says Sally, “my sincere hope is that my production will not be bogged down in its tragic events. Shakespeare’s plays are so wonderful because comedy, tragedy, pathos and humour sit comfortably side by side in all of them, and none more so than in Romeo and Juliet.

"The first half, particularly, will have a lightness of touch, and be full of joy, humour and excitement. It is set about 100 years before Shakespeare’s time, and the costumes are truly spectacular, so I know it will be a visual feast.

“I hope the modern twist will intrigue the audience, but mostly I hope they will be swept along by a cracking story that has been well told.”

After a two year wait, the Company is determined to produce a top-class show, filled with passion, bloody revenge, bawdy comedy, thrilling swordplay and, of course, some of the most beautiful language ever written.

•Enjoy a picnic in the glorious grounds, then take your seat, protected from summer showers, and see a stage like no other.

Performance dates, times and tickets from the box office (01780) 756133 or www.stamfordshakespeare.co.uk