The wonderful Illyria returned with four fantastic performances for the summer 2017 season. We look forward to welcoming them back next summer - come rain or come shine, bring a chair, all-weather clothing (but no view-blocking umbrellas please) and a picnic and enjoy the show!
To give you a taste of Illyria, the 2017 performances remain listed below. The 2018 programme to be announced - watch this space!
The Cafe is open for 30 mins before each performance, and during the interval, serving hot and cold drinks, cakes, ice cream & crisps.
Many of the courtyard shops will also be open at these times, some offering special on-the-day theatre discounts.
The Emperor's New Clothes
Based on the timeless Hans Christian Andersen story, Illyria first performed this show in 2000 when it was Critic's choice at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and attracted multiple 5-star reviews on a sellout UK tour.
The Emperor is a lovely man, but he’s not the best judge of character, and is often surrounded by idiots. What keeps him sane is the monthly Grand Parade at which he wears his newest outfit. When two swindlers spin a yarn and everyone is taken in, what price will he have to pay? Will the new clothes they make really enable him to weed out the idiots in his palace? Or will he end up losing his crown jewels? All will be revealed in Illyria’s cheekiest ever show!
One of the most famous cautionary tales ever told. As in so many of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories, beneath the fancy clothes of the tale lies something more meaningful; human weaknesses are satirised mercilessly; and a capacity for loving is the highest value. There are larger-than-life characters, lots and lots to join in with – and an ending that will leave you helpless with laughter!
[NB - there is NO nudity in the production. Although one of the actors may be a little chilly…]
A Comedy of Errors
In Shakespeare’s shortest, funniest and most rumbustious comedy two sets of identical twins, separated at birth, unknowingly end up in the same city, and through a series of chance meetings their lives and sanity begin to unravel. More and more people are sucked into a vortex of mistaken identity including an Officer who is paid per arrest, a Goldsmith who hasn't been paid at all, a delayed Merchant, an irate Courtesan and a mad Exorcist. To say nothing of a wife who sometimes feels her husband is two different personalities, and a poor Immigrant who is arrested for being the wrong nationality. And what exactly is the Abbess of Ephesus's dark secret? Will anything ever make sense again?
To cap it all, this year Illyria’s Shakespeare production is re-located to the town of Ephesus, Mexico, and is performed by our very own 5-piece Mariachi band, resplendent in ponchos and sombreros. Ay caramba!
Illyria is an intrepid band of 5 actors who perform Shakespeare’s plays, entirely uncut, direct from the First Folio, the most authoritative edition of Shakespeare’s plays. Part of the fun with Illyria, as they hurtle towards the final scene, is trying to work out how they can possibly reach the end without needing more actors! It’s fast, it’s polished and it’s spoken beautifully (uniquely among open-air touring theatre companies Illyria’s artistic director has published articles on verse-speaking) – and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic agree that Illyria’s performance style is the most authentically Elizabethan to be seen.
Pride and Prejudice
In a social whirlwind of balls, dinners and very eligible officers, Lizzie Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy stand alone as the only sane people - and they hate each other! Or do they? Can she see beyond his pride, and can he overcome her prejudice, in order to achieve their mutual happiness?
If your idea of Jane Austen is costume-drama, empire-lines and tea-parties, then this sparkling adaptation, based entirely on the original novel, is something to make you change your mind. Bring a picnic and have a ball as the irrepressible Illyria sharpen their claws to bring you Jane Austen at her vibrant, pacy, forthright, bitchy best!
In the town of Titipu flirting has been made illegal. The penalty, by order of The Mikado, is death. Too bad then that the main culprit is the Lord High Executioner Ko-Ko, who wishes to marry his beautiful young ward Yum-Yum, and who has no intention of executing himself. Can the itinerant musician Nanki-Poo be persuaded to be executed in his place? Can Pooh-Bah, the man who occupies every role in public office, be persuaded to take advantage of his influential access to himself as Archbishop to bend his own ear as Lord Chief Justice? And what would happen if anyone should dare to tell the Mikado that an execution had taken place when in fact it hadn’t…?
Gilbert & Sullivan’s wry comic opera is set in Japan, but its satire of the ways a lie can be twisted into a truth is more blisteringly relevant to the political landscape of the English-speaking world than perhaps ever before! Performed by a cast of 6 actor/singers accompanied by a musical director on keyboards, it gets the complete Illyria treatment, and is produced on a stage boasting a strikingly large (and authentic) Japanese torii gate. Despite the reduction in scale not a single word from WS Gilbert's libretto is cut, nor a single note or harmony from Sir Arthur Sullivan's score unsung.
Headline photograph featuring The Mikado by & copyright of Henley Spiers