So, after a blistering start, the British summer has now reverted to type and is offering up a surly mixture of rain, thunder, gale-force winds and fleeting glimpses of sunshine. This happens every year, so surely only blind optimists and downright foolhardy types would continue to book tickets for theatre productions staged outdoors in the middle of the pot-luck English summer. And yet I notice that my diary is insisting I appear to be doing this very activity tomorrow night, having apparently signed up to see An Ideal Husband in Didsbury's Fletcher Moss Park.
As I obviously prefer to think of myself as an optimist rather than some kind of idiot, let us examine the reasons behind my devotion to outdoor theatre:
1. The company that we go to see every year, Heartbreak Productions, are brilliant. Over the years we have seen them perform all sorts of things - they always do a Shakespeare, a children's play, and a third play that this year has been snaffled by Oscar Wilde. Although the cast is slightly different each year, they are always irritatingly young, attractive and talented; it's not clever to be able to sing, dance, act AND play musical instruments, you know. Take a look at their website at www.heartbreakproductions.co.uk if you don't believe me.
2. Ususally, the weather is lovely. We have only had one real disaster, when we saw Twelfth Night a few years ago - it poured and poured, and umbrellas were banned in the interests of the people at the back still being able to see (selfish). To make things worse, we had a persuaded another friend of mine to come along; she is Spanish, and was not amused by watching Shakespeare in the rain. We left at half time and drank wine at my house instead.
3. Last year my friend was volunteered by her young nephews to get up on stage during The Wind in The Willows and play the part of a prospective Mrs Toad. When asked what she could bring to the marriage she (accurately) replied that she was very good at opening champagne bottles. That's my girl. Mr Toad did go on to turn her down, but not until her sister had helpfully videoed the whole thing.
4. Picnics are obligatory, the more middle-class the better. Ideally, pop to M&S or Waitrose and purchase a range of items to include quiche, pork pies, potato salad, coleslaw, crisps, dips, strawberries, and pink wine. You then spread this out around you and proceed to consume it noisily throughout the performance.
5. The locations are beautiful. Tomorrow's play is in the exquisite Fletcher Moss Gardens; the Shakespeare one in August is at Wythenshawe Park, in the lovely gardens by the house. Although we do walk VERY quickly back through the park afterwards.
So, you see - actually not foolish at all. Although, if it's wet tomorrow I'll be wishing once again I'd coughed up for the undercover seats....