Current Open-Air Theatre Presentations in London

The long-awaited summer is here when your dream of seeing an open-air theatre or a cinema can become a reality. London offers enough opportunities to see Shakespeare’s plays under the stars or an opera in a park or maybe, an avant-garde oddness by Docklands. This is the time when there will be maximum attractions outdoors when you can make your dreams of spending afternoons in the park and evenings by sunset or nights on rooftops or mornings in bright sunshine, a reality. Throughout the summer, you will find bars on open terraces, musicians taking to the streets and even theatres getting into the act by offering outdoor performances.

If you are interested in having a great time outdoors during the summer, you must take a poncho and a jumper just in case as well as pre-plan which rooftop bar you will visit after the show. There is an undeniable charm that open-air theatres exude while the stages blend into their surroundings and the soundtracks are mixed with nature rustling and fidgeting away. As you are in London, you will also hear an occasional siren bleating but the entertainment outdoors will be unique. The following outdoor events are in the pipeline for July 2017 onwards.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Taking place at Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington from Wednesday July 26 to Sunday July 30 2017, this grim show by Pandemonium Performance is an outdoor promenade play inspired by classic tales including ‘Hansel & Gretel’, ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ and ‘Red Riding Hood’. It is suitable for ages ten-plus.

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Macbeth: Taking place at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden from Wednesday July 26 2017 to Saturday July 29 2017, this production of Macbeth features weird sisters who are part-alien, part-insect and part-gas mask. One of them is seen stalking about on stilts, another wears sprouted flowers while the third has a praying mantis fitted on its face. The show has been described as ‘spooky mythology with a rustic hue’. It all seems a bit chaotic but there are flashes of magic particularly when light starts to fade.

Much Ado about Nothing: This play is taking place at the Shakespeare’s Globe in South Bank until October 15 2017 and is set in 1914 at the height of the Mexican Revolution. It is a high concept period production that is taking place in a building that is already a high concept period production. The wooden shack set which looks rather like the South Bank branch of Wahaca changes the stage with the pillars concealed and a mariachi band playing on the roof. Despite all its directorial mismatches, it still comes up as a rock solid production. The performance by Mathew Needham is enjoyable while Beatriz Romilly really shines among the rest.

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Oliver Twist: Taking place at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until Saturday August 5 2017, this is the story of a plucky Victorian orphan Oliver who is best known for the 1960 musical of the same name. This show is aimed at adults and kids aged 6 plus and offers a riotous journey through the streets of Victorian London that is infested with a gang of junior pickpockets.

A Tale Of Two Cities: This show is taking place until Saturday August 5 2017 at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. In the beginning, it faced flak from audiences for its copious swearing and a sex scene and even though the scene and most of the swearing was deleted, there were still mass interval walkouts. It is a doomed attempt at abridging a Dickens novel into a three-hour stage play and the version complicates things by setting it in the present day scenario. This production is a glorious example of why it is said that Dickens novels are considered unstageable.

Twelfth Night: Shakespeare’s epic play is on at Shakespeare’s Globe, South Bank until Saturday August 5 2017. Only a year ago Emma Rice directed her first Shakespeare play for the Globe and already it seems that this Twelfth Night may be her last Shakespeare in the main theatre. This production is a delight and it is a pity that she won’t be providing such delights for the Globe any more. This joyous cuddle of production reveals her expansive whimsy matching with Shakespeare’s wild freeform comedy. It seems that her ouster came over a disagreement on her use of amplified light and sound but she had done the same with the season opener ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

River Stage: Taking place at the National Theatre, South Bank from Friday July 28 2017 until Sunday August 27 2017, the outdoor River Stage will use the space outside the theatre to host takeovers from live performance luminaries including WOMAD, Rambert, and East London cabaret bar The Glory.

Tales from the Arabian Nights: These legendary tales that have captured the minds and imagination of kids for centuries before Disney’s Aladdin will be performed at Southwark Park, Rotherhithe from August 1 2017 until Saturday August 19 2017. The outdoor promenade show from London Bubble of Scheherazade’s best stories involving flying carpets, magic lamps, beautiful maidens and adventuring sailors will be performed in Greenwich Park and Southwark Park.

Alice in Wonderland: Being performed at Brockwell Park, Herne Hill until Monday August 14 2017, this promenade production of Lewis Carroll’s rabbit-chasing classic is being offered by Sixteen Feet Productions.  It will be on at two beautiful London green spaces: Streatham’s Rookery and Herne Hill’s Brockwell Park.

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