The world may have changed a great deal in the past 450 years, but human nature hasn’t…

Which is why the plays of William Shakespeare, written in the late 1500s, and with their themes of love, friendship, families and feuding, are as popular now as they were back then.

Every summer, as part of their annual 75-night tour of the UK, the Festival Players bring a Shakespeare play to Frampton on Severn. This year we were treated to Much Ado About Nothing, a fast-moving comedy of love, deception and misunderstanding, performed by an all-male troupe of 6 actors and with music specially composed by the well-known singer/songwriter Johnny Coppin.

Adapted by director Michael Dyer – for the open air and for the UK’s variable climate – the play, which runs for two hours, was energetic and funny and brilliantly performed by this versatile and talented group of actors.   The acting was excellent, the verse, clearly spoken and the music a delightful addition.

The June evening was a little cool, but the stoical British spirit prevailed: the audience arrived at the Manor Garden at 6pm with picnics, warm blankets and bottles of wine. By the end of the show, we were booing the evil Don John and rooting for Benedick to win the hand of his capricious Beatrice.

In the sixteenth century, Shakespeare toured the country with his own small troupe of actors, playing village greens, courtyards, private homes and castle gardens. In 2019, to be able to sit under the stars and watch a live theatre performance is a rare and timeless pleasure: long may the Festival Players continue.