The Festival Players present Shakespeare's 'The Comedy of Errors' at Swinhay House

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UNDER the Edge Arts will once again be hosting The Festival players in the stunning grounds of Swinhay House near Wotton-Under-Edge this summer.

Sir David McMurtry will kindly open the grounds of his amazing modernist mansion once again, so that UTEA can raise funds with an unmissible open-air performance of Shakespeare. This year is Shakespeare’s 450th birthday year, and Gloucestershire’s acclaimed Festival Players are pulling out all the stops on their tour. The company, (celebrating it's 29th year of touring Shakespeare productions this year), will be fielding their traditional all-male cast in their performances.

At Swinhay the audience will be treated to the farcical 'The Comedy of Errors', Shakespeare’s shortest play, which will be staged on the beautiful lawns of the contemporary country residence. Swinhay House is now familiar to fans of the BBC series Sherlock as 'Appledore', the spectacular mansion of villain Charles Augustus Magnussen in the series finale. With panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, a curving lake and spectacular sculptures, this is an idyllic venue for garden and theatre lovers alike. Not to mention the perfect location for a picnic and a glass of something chilled. Licensed bar and hot drinks will also be available, as will plenty of on-site car parking.

The inimitable Festival Players aim to make Shakespeare accessible to all this summer; they definitely have audience comfort and attention spans in mind, the show is never longer than two hours and packed with an amalgam of energy, entertainment and colour. The Festival Players take audiences of all ages on a journey and make them feel very much part of the production. The small cast of seven punches well above their weight, playing multiple roles that demand quick costume changes, as well as musical prowess.

The Comedy of Errors focuses on two sets of accidentally separated identical twins and awash with puns and slapstick. Says Michael: “It is a brilliant farce of mistaken identities with a few darker undertones and we will perform it very much as a colourful, entertaining romp.” It tells of a master and his servant arriving in a foreign port (the Turkish port of Ephesus), which, unbeknown to them, is the home of their long-lost twin brothers. Mayhem ensues in a riotous train of mistaken identity, seduction and pursuit.

Worcestershire-based Michael Dyer, Artistic Director of The Festival Players, and former director of Cornwall’s Minack Open Air Theatre will direct the production. Michael, will also play the Duke, Solinus. The music is specially written for The Comedy of Errors by folk star Johnny Coppin (front man of the cult Seventies folk-rock group Decameron). Gloucestershire-based Coppin adds a special ingredient with his original songs and instrumentals involving all the cast. Johnny has just released a long awaited new studio album entitled Borderlands.

This magical and exciting theatrical experience is really not to be missed, so please book tickets early to avoid disappointment. Advanced booking is essential. The grounds open 6pm, and the play starts promptly at 7.30pm. Please bring along chairs, blankets and picnics, plus suitable clothing for all weather conditions.

Tickets for the performance, ,are priced at £15 (concessions £13) and are available from It Takes Two, Long Street, Wotton Under edge, online at www.utea.org.uk or by calling UTEA on 07791 323869. You can follow the Players here: www.twitter.com/festivalplay

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