Open air theatre arrives at Cathedral Cloister for Norwich Shakespeare Festival this weekend

By Ivan Stoyanov | 16 July 2010
A photo of performers in an open-air play

(Above) GB Theatre are in Norwich this weekend. Image: Splodge Photography,

Festival: Norwich Shakespeare Festival, Norwich Cathedral Cloister, Norwich, until July 18 2010

Having dominated the Norwich skyline for centuries, Norwich Cathedral gets the hang of filling up a basket of delight with a series of atmospheric outdoor performances this month.

The Cloister at Norfolk’s most famous building provides a magnificent setting for GB Theatre’s productions of two of William Shakespeare's best loved romantic comedies, The Merry Wives of Windsor and As You Like It.

Now in its second year, the Shakespeare Festival has proved to be a real hit with audiences from Norwich itself, from the county of Norfolk and further afield.

“The Festival takes a literal view of that oft-quoted ‘All the World’s a Stage’ line,” says an excited Cecile Tuddenham, Marketing Manager at the Cathedral.

“It fulfils our key aim of introducing the Cathedral to people who may be unfamiliar with it, helping them discover the fantastic heritage on offer in the East of England.

“Add this to the combination of England’s greatest playwright and our Norman buildings, and you get the recipe for a perfect evening out.”

The thought of being in the Cloisters at night most definitely aroused public interest – last year they played to packed houses each night.

Against the historic scenery, visitors will be reminded of Shakespeare’s genius and innovation of representing all of England on the stage, of all backgrounds and classes - from the Court to the Forest of Arden and the Middle and Working Class of Windsor.

Both productions showcase internationally recognised talents and comprise some household names from the worlds of stage and screen.

David Davies, who has a clutch of Shakespearean roles under his belt for the British Shakespeare Company, is among the cast, and director Barrie Palmer, who appeared as Stan in Victoria Wood’s Dinner Ladies show, directs.

A black and white photo of a man staring into the camera

Director Barrie Palmer

The pair debuted their touring series of shows to acclaim in Norway, where it was described as “a vitamin supplement to the Norwegian theatre” by Oslo's Dagbladet writer Inger Merete Hobbelstad.

As You Like It is universally considered a supreme verse, and The Merry Wives of Windsor demonstrates a finesse of prose credited with heralding the development of sitcom.

Starts 7pm (grounds open 6pm). Advance tickets £19.50/£15.50 tonight, £21.50 Saturday, £21.50/£17.50 Sunday (free for under-5s). £3 fee added to tickets bought on the door. Call 01603 218323 or 01603 772175 to book, or buy online.

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