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Outdoor theatre group brings Bard’s classic to idyllic Lauderdale House

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»There must be few more idyllic ways to spend a balmy summer’s evening than watching Shakespeare in the manicured grounds of one of London’s most historic houses with a picnic and a bottle of wine.

Thankfully, after a year’s break, the outdoor stage on the tea lawn at Lauderdale House in Highgate – which overlooks the stunning Waterlow Park – returns next week with the Shooting Stars Theatre Company’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, as part of the Camden Fringe Festival.

“I think it’s just how Shakespeare intended it,” says Helen Crosse, 31, artistic director of the company. “The play lends itself so well to the outdoors. It’s so nice to have the elements such as the sky and the trees – especially at Lauderdale House with all that beautiful greenery around – as a natural backdrop.

“I don’t think there’s anything nicer than Shakespeare outdoors in the summer, nothing quite compares. We encourage people to bring their own picnics and wine, it all adds to the experience.”

Helen, who established the theatre company in 2006, explained that the actress playing Beatrice – Tabitha Becker-Kahn – suggested the historic house, built in 1582, as a venue when they were discussing where to take the play on tour.

Tabitha, 27, said: “I was there two years ago as Desdemona in Othello. It was absolutely amazing. It’s such a beautiful setting which makes it so magical. I’m really excited to be coming back.”

Shooting Stars is known for its outdoor productions and their plays are created for the entire family.

Helen, who lives in Haringey, said: “We have had children as young as eight years old saying they didn’t think it would be so much fun. We draw out all the comedy so they know it’s funny and they get it visually, even if they don’t get the Shakespearian language.”

This fresh new take on the famous Shakespeare comedy sees the play set in the current day with the men returning from service in Afghanistan.

“We like to put a modern twist on Shakespeare, but keep all the language complete. We make it relatable and accessible, and that’s something we get told we’ve achieved by a lot of people after our shows.

“We got a standing ovation after both shows in Dorset last week.”

“People can expect a very fast paced, high-energy and accessible production that’s going to be great fun for all the family. “We’ve made sure you get the best heartfelt and really touching moments, as well as a lot of comedy.”

The company will also be treating audiences to their critically acclaimed production of Wind in the Willows, which won numerous awards in its run at the Stratford Fringe Festival earlier this summer.

Performances of Much Ado About Nothing will take place at 7pm from Tuesday, August 22 to Friday, August 24, and on Sunday, August 26. Tickets are £12 (£10 concessions).

Wind in the Willows performances will take place on Sunday, August 26 and Monday, August 27, at 2.30pm with tickets priced £6.50. Book tickets at www.lauderdalehouse.org.uk.

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