Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is a beautiful venue – especially if the weather is on your side – and while The Winter’s Tale re-imagined is no Shakespearean masterpiece, the production is an enjoyable watch in such a lovely setting.
This production is undoubtedly a children’s play, although the aesthetics of the advertising does not reflect exactly how much of a children’s play it is. There are sing-alongs, there are “he’s behind you!” moments, there is even a dance-along section.
Following the story of a feud between two kings, the performance certainly makes a less-than-straightforward plot more accessible for children. The language used is Shakespearean in form but is finessed for easier digestion. The ensemble cast are energetic and animated and for the most part the children of the audience were engaged, although a few parents were heard asking “exactly what part didn’t you understand, darling?” to their children, on the way to grab an ice cream in the interval.
The theatre itself is nestled sweetly in Regent’s Park, sitting unobtrusively amid the trees and bushes. It is completely open to the elements (so you will get wet if the heavens decide to open) but the tall trees cocoon you in to the semi-circular setting to give you a lovely outdoor viewing experience.
The traditional feeling of this set-up makes it an ideal place to enjoy Shakespeare. The Winter’s Tale does the job of working for a younger audience through a combination of lyrical storytelling, imaginative physical use of the space, and a healthy sprinkling of audience participation.