As discussed in a previous post, if you want to guarantee a wet summer, simply book tickets for a selection of open-air theatre productions. I'm sure it's no coincidence that my interest in such events has corresponded with a series of utterly rubbish summers; I hold my hands up and accept the blame. So none of our party was remotely surprised yesterday evening to find ourselves glumly trudging to Wythenshawe Park in the rain, grimly clutching our folding chairs and our optimistically exuberant picnic (you see - English to the core; still intending on picnicking despite the monsoon.)
And then a funny thing happened. As we took our seats for Heartbreak Productions' "Love in Shakespeare" and popped the cork on the pink fizz, the heavens cleared. Blue sky arched overhead and the sun smiled down on us through the trees. A hush descended and we took a quiet moment to appreciate the power of the pink wine, the cup-cake, and the M & S pork pie.
After such an auspicious start, the play was bound to be good; and it was. I had initially been a little suspicious - Heartbreak always put on a mighty Shakespeare performance, with previous years including The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet, so why mess about with something calling itself "a comedic and at times, irreverent love story intertwined with some of the Bard’s best bits"? Why would you want to chop Shakespeare up into little pieces? I want it ALL, not a Big Brother-style highlights package!
Of course, it was all fine. The play was written especially for Heartbreak, and featured a talent night in a modern-day pub called The Shakespeare where each of the acts found themselves mysteriously transformed into Bard-spouting poets. The plot is so hopelessly contrived that one of the cast cheerfully admits as much right at the beginning of proceedings, but it IS funny - even a stray husband who'd been forced to attend due to a last-minute spare ticket enjoyed it. The cast switch effortlessly between roles, with all the characters played by just five performers, and as usual they can all sing and play instruments as well as act. The boys are cute this year as well, after a slight dip in quality in recent years.
The summer season for Heartbreak is nearly at an end but there is still time (just) to catch them - check out their website at www.heartbreakproductions.co.uk to find out where they'll be. I've even got some leftover party sausages in the fridge if you're willing to collect - no pink wine though, so you'll need to get your own if you want to stay dry.