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Bear in the Air Productions announces open-air tour of Much Ado About Nothing

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An off-West End theatre company is taking Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing on an open-air tour of the south of England this summer – including Sawbridgeworth Cricket Club.

Award-nominated Bear in the Air Productions will be putting on 25 performances at 14 venues – including eight cricket clubs, two vineyards and even Bletchley Park – in five counties and the capital over the course of two months.

The tour starts and finishes at cricket clubs in Oxfordshire: Banbury on Wednesday July 6 and Henley on Sunday September 4.

Much Ado About Nothing by Bear in the Air Productions (57821437)
Much Ado About Nothing by Bear in the Air Productions (57821437)

The cast of six and crew visit Berkshire, East Sussex and Buckinghamshire before their one and only appearance in Hertfordshire, at Town Fields, Sawbridgeworth, on Friday August 5 at 6pm.

The show will spend a full week at the Brockley Jack Theatre in Lewisham, south, London in late August.

A spokesperson said: "Bear in the Air is committed to supporting regional communities and bringing high-quality theatre to audiences outside of London. The tour is, in part, driven by a desire to give back, with most performances being in aid of the venues."

Much Ado About Nothing by Bear in the Air Productions (57821439)
Much Ado About Nothing by Bear in the Air Productions (57821439)

On the map is the iconic and historic Bletchley Park, the country house and estate in Buckinghamshire that became the principal centre of Allied code-breaking during the Second World War. With the Bletchley Park drama group having performed Much Ado About Nothing in 1943, this tour marks the play's proud return to the grounds.

Much Ado About Nothing is thought to have been written in 1598-99. The comedy is set in Messina and revolves around two romantic pairings that emerge when a group of soldiers arrive in the Italian town.

The first, between Claudio and Hero, is nearly altered by the accusations of the villainous Don John. The second romance, between Claudio's friend Benedick and Hero's cousin Beatrice, takes centre stage as the play evolves, with the pair's witty repartee and banter providing much of the humour.

Benedick and Beatrice, hilariously awkward in each other’s presence, are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into believing Hero is not a virgin.

Audiences are invited to enjoy a couple of hours in a glorious setting with Shakespeare’s most popular bantering couple. Throw in a delightfully conniving baddie out to create mischief, a young and naïve but dashing couple and the out-of-their-depth local police force and you have the recipe for a delightful bit of theatrical escapism.

The cast of six – five of whom play more than one role – is headed by Ross Telfer and Hannah Eggleton as lovers Benedick and Beatrice; they double up as Watchman 1 and 2.

Charles Stobert is the villainous Don Pedro, Megan King is Hero and Borachio, Toby George-Waters plays Claudio and Sexton while Conor Cook appears as Don John, Friar Francis and Dogberry.

The production is directed by Heather Simpkin and produced by Samuel Ranger. Costume design is by Alice McNicholas.

Tickets are priced £8-£15 and are available from Bear in the Air’s eventbrite page www.muchadotour.co.uk.

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