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Best outdoor theatre in Berkshire

It's time to venture outside and access some much-needed culture - hurrah! So, without further ado, we present the best outdoor theatre to book now.

Abbey Ruins, Reading

If you’re looking for a backdrop that atmospheric, dramatic and nails the period brief, the Reading’s Abbey Ruins – originally founded by Henry I in 1112– is it. Outdoor theatre has been performed here since extensive conservation work completed. This month, to mark the 900th anniversary of the Abbey, the Rabble Theatre will bring to life the extraordinary story of Reading’s Last Abbot (11 Jun – 3 Jul). Tickets from £16. Then the Progress Theatre will take over the open air stage to perform Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo & Juliet (14 – 24 July). Tickets from £18.

The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor

The Hound of the Baskervilles Watermill Theatre_1000x666

As usual, there’s loads of treats on at The Watermill Theatre. This bijou theatre takes it outside during the summer – making the most of the gardens and the theatre’s stunning riverside location. The Arthur Conan Doyal adaptation The Hound of the Baskervilles is currently on until 19 Jun. Then we move onto Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It (24 Jun-24 Jul) which will have a eco set and costume with music inspired by Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Taylor Swift. Loving the sound of that. The grand garden finale is a semi-staged concert performance of Just So (30 Jul – 4 Sep) – showcasing five of Rudyard Kipling’s stories. Book tickets here.

Shaw House, Newbury

Shaw House

Immersion Theatre is a multi-award-winning company taking a few productions outside this summer – and they’re making a couple of stops at the historic Shaw House in Newbury. Starting with an evening performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet on 25 Jul (adult tickets £12). Followed by family favourite The Jungle Book on 9 Aug (tickets from £8). Book now.

South Hill Park, Bracknell

Scoot Theatre Midsummer Night's dream

South Hill Park Arts Centre is a hidden Berkshire gem – a grand design with stunning gardens and an amphitheatre for a summer season of outdoor theatre. First up is Wind In The Willows (31 Jul–1 Aug) – inspired by Berkshire, so it’s practically a homcoming – created by Cats Grin Theatre Company. Then between 14 and 16 Aug, the brilliantly bonkers Scoot Theatre Company is putting on afternoon and evening performances of The Comedy of Errors  and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To wrap things up (and play chicken with the weather) a group of young actors will take to the outdoor stage in Godspell (20-22 Aug). Don;t forget to pack a brolly, pac-a-mac and a blanket. Buy tickets here.

Garsington Opera, High Wycombe

Garsington Opera’s summer season is already underway on the bucolic Wormsley Estate and – be warned – tickets are like gold dust. Most of the performances have already sold out but if you want to put yourself on the list for cancellations this is what’s on; Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss (2 June – 3 July), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (3 June – 23 July), then Handel’s Amadigi is due between 19 June – 25 July to run alongside Rossini’s Le Comte Ory (2 – 25 July). There are two one-off performances too: The Selfish Giant by John Barber (29 July) is based on Oscar Wilde’s short story and will be performed by young professional singers. Weather the Storm by Orlando Gough, about the experiences of stroke survivors and actually performed by some alongside professional singers and NHS professionals, will show on 31 July. Tickets and info here.

And finally…

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regents-Park-Open-Air-Theatre 21

It’s further afield, sure, but there’s something just so summer-defining by attending a performance in Regent’s Park. This year, there’s Romeo & Juliet running from 17 June – 24 July, an all-singing, all-dancing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (31 July – 25 Sept), family show Dragons and Mythical Beasts (13 Aug – 5 Sept) and then Anansi the Spider (7 – 24 July) suitable for even the very small. The Bar will be open as will The Grill (with the option of covered dining for Carousel) but Covid restrictions are in place so expect a slightly different experience as usual. Tickets start from £10.

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