Outdoor Shakespeare production set for Haverhill and nearby villages

Helena (Emma Letcher) receives offers of marriage from four young lords (Billie Allen, Sian Bowyer, Daisy Robson-Baillie and Sarah Norton) in Outspoken Theatre Companys production of Alls Well That Ends Well.
Helena (Emma Letcher) receives offers of marriage from four young lords (Billie Allen, Sian Bowyer, Daisy Robson-Baillie and Sarah Norton) in Outspoken Theatre Companys production of Alls Well That Ends Well.
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A dying king, a scorned wife and an inveterate liar are among the characters visiting venues in and around Haverhill next week in the latest outdoor Shakespeare production by local group Outspoken Theatre Company.

All’s Well That Ends Well forms the group’s 16th annual Shakespeare tour, which opens at East Town Park in Haverhill on Tuesday evening (July 25).

It follows their much-acclaimed production of Hamlet last year and stands in a line of successful productions of most of Shakespeare’s comedies, most recently As You Like It, The Comedy Of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Director David Hart says All’s Well That Ends Well is a fascinating and much-under-rated play which has recently been the subject of new appraisals by scholars.

“In the past it had been dubbed a ‘problem play’ – a sort of dark comedy – along with Measure For Measure,” he said.

“But it has recently been re-dated by experts to place it with the late romances, such as A Winter’s Tale and The Tempest.

“It is very funny and has a final scene with more revelations than an Agatha Christie.”

The story centres around a girl of humble birth who is obsessed with a rich and immature young aristocrat. As a reward for her help, the king commands him to marry her against his will, but he runs away to war rather than sleep with her. But she follows and comes up with a cunning plan…

The group specialises in modern re-interpretations of Shakespeare’s stories, while remaining faithful to both the text and the original minimalist staging.

“We’ve set this one in the 1930s, when quite a few sons of the upper classes went off to fight in the Spanish Civil War,” said Mr Hart.

“It gives us the opportunity for some good set pieces, including a radio version of ‘Blind Date’.”

The cast includes Emma Letcher as Helena, Cian Harriss as Bertram, the object of her passion, Alan Davison as the King and Steve Murray as Bertram’s friend Parolles, a liar and boaster high in the list of Shakespeare’s best comic creations.

The show opens at East Town Park on Tuesday and travels to Hundon Plough on Wednesday (July 26), Stoke by Clare Lion on Thursday and Great Thurlow Hall on Friday, all starting at 7.30pm, then Hildersham Churchyard on Saturday and the Erskine Centre in Chedburgh on Sunday, both at 6.30pm.

Tickets are available on the gate at most venues (check first at Hundon Plough where there is a limit on numbers), prices vary from venue to venue.