Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre - As You Like It - Twelfth Night - Masters are you Mad


Review of Twelfth Night Performed by Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre and Produced by Chester Performs 2012


Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre is currently performing its third Shakespeare Play in Chester this year. Following on from the previous two years very efficacious seasons featuring Much Ado About Nothing in 2010 and the 2011 portrayal of As You Like It, we are currently being offered to an exquisite performance of Twelfth Night which runs until 19th August.


In the enchanting environment of Grosvenor Park with its copious apparel of foliage providing the perfect backdrop for an outdoor Shakespearean experience with its natural selection of forested props we were allowed to indulge our fantasies as the enactment unfolded before us.


With a significant part of the Open Air Theatre under cover the audience are sheltered from whatever extremes the weather may yield be it rain or be it shine nothing can diminish from the enthralling production directed by the remarkably talented Artistic Director Alex Clifton.


While the audience relish in the informal and relaxed atmosphere solely unique to the Picnic Theatre experience in this very tranquil of settings under the captivating evening Lights of the Park and the close propinquity to the stage all that remains to say is  “If Music be the food of love play on”


Full recognition should be given to Chester Performs in assembling yet again such a magnificent Troupe of Actors with a very opulent pedigree of Theatre Credits as indeed they have provided on the two previous occasions in 2010 and 2011. This years’ Cast are made up of varying areas of expertise and ethnic backgrounds which both blend together also produce a rich cultural diversity which greatly enhances the performance.


Olivia played by Lorna Beckett expressed radiantly the authority her part demanded and equally conveyed irresistibly the anguish and hedonism of her emotions by the rejection of and later ecstasy in obtaining love through the sexual ambiguity and cross-dressing of Krupa Pattani as Viola and the arrival of Sebastian played by Haseeb Malik.


Great acclaim should be afforded to Feste and Sir Toby Belch played by Chris Vincent and Jack Lord respectfully ably supported by Scott Arthur as Sir Andrew Aquecheek who all contributed significantly to the humour of the play with their various escapades and drunken behaviour. These Characters truly excelled in their roles and added considerably to the appeal and enhancement of the performance.


However the outstanding artist of this production of Twelfth Night has to be Malvolio portrayed by Matthew Rixon. Playing the delusional arrogant egotistical buffoon Matthew excelled in his role showing all the panache, flamboyance and indeed humiliation the role commanded. This was a performance that his father Matthew Kelly would have been proud of and although there is both a physical and verbal resemblance this was very much a unique unblemished presentation that captivated the whole audience.



The Costumes employed showed prodigious imagination moving away from the traditional Elizabethan theme to later eras and displaying inventiveness and nuance on the original concept. Particular reference should be made to the noteworthy quality of the Music engaged and the vocal depictions of Chris Vincent playing Feste who was truly exceptional.


This magnificent unparalleled experience that only Picnic Theatre can replicate courtesy of Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre and the Production by Chester Performs should be enjoyed by all.


Andrew D Thompson


Review of Masters are you Mad Performed by Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre and Produced by Chester Performs 2012


Glyn Maxwell returns to Chester with his new Play Masters are you Mad following his resounding success with last years’ Merlin and the Woods of Time. Directed by Robin Norton-Hale we are presented with the opportunity to witness the continuation of Twelfth Night through this new production.

Following this prolongation set some twelve years later and revolving around Malvolio’s promise that he’d “Be reveng’d on the whole pack of you” resulting from his treatment at the hands of Maria plus Sir Toby Belch and company.

The Play contains five of the original characters from the Shakespearean Comedy who with the passage of time have found themselves in circumstances of desolation. Is this the natural evolution resulting from the hastily constructed and indeed in some instances incompatible marriages performed in Twelfth Night or are their darker forces at work?

Here we find tortured souls restless emotions searching for the tranquillity and equanimity they desire so deeply in their lives. Characters questioning their sexuality, marital status even their very being search for Malvolio maybe if they atone for their past transgressions through reconciliation will they find peace?

Does love conquer all does time heal pain or are they simply illusions out of our grasp and beyond our comprehension. Equally are we Masters of our own destiny these are the examinations that the virtuosity of Glyn Maxwell leave us to explore.

Superb portrayals by Victoria Gee as Mary and the reappearance of Matthew Rixon as Malvolio excel in this production adding both merriment and despair to the complexities of their corresponding situations. They were ably abetted in this performance by Haseeb Malik as the amusing, blundering assassin and the humorous Chris Lindon as Otto the ferryman.

We are very fortunate to witness yet again another remarkable creation from the extremely talented poet and playwright Glyn Maxwell those works add considerably to the Grosvenor Open Air Theatre atmosphere.


Andrew D Thompson


 As You Like It By William Shakespeare

Performed by Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre and Produced by Chester Performs 2011


Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre


This is now the second year that Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre has performed Shakespeare Plays here in Chester.
Following on from 2010’s very successful debut season featuring Much Ado About Nothing it was a pleasure to attend this year’s enactment of As You Like It which continues until 21st August.

Arranged in the outstanding splendour and tranquillity of Grosvenor Park there can be no better setting to appreciate the qualities of an outdoor Shakespearian encounter. Not so much All the World’s a Stage but more the epitome of Picnic Theatre at its very best.

Directed by Nikolai Foster and executed by a cast of Actors with an outstanding pedigree of Theatre Credits this was truly an exceptional presentation and a very congenial evening under the superlative Lights of the Park.

The close proximity to the stage provided the basis for the intimate depiction of the Comedy which enhanced the unfolding of the profuse plots and sub plots. The revealing elements of power, lust, the misperceptions of love and their resulting anguish and enchantment were radiantly portrayed by the accomplished Cast. The Actors interacted audaciously with the audience adding considerably to the experience of Open Air Theatre, providing there is no objection to sharing drinks with your thespian acquaintances.

The Intrigue of “As You Like It” was captured flawlessly by Natalie Grady playing Rosalind. The notable interpretation and cross-dressing disguise in the forest was very humorous but also captivated the romantic desire of the moment whilst not leading to sexual deviation.

Orlando played by David Ricardo-Pearce expressed wonderfully the exuberance and dynamism the part demanded and articulated emotively the yearning and anguish of his love for Rosalind

Particular reference should be expressed to the quality of the Choreography, Music and Costumes employed throughout the Performance, which epitomised the outstanding professionalism and significantly contributed to bringing the portrayal of the Characters to life.

Full credit should be given to Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre and the Production by Chester Performs which is one more illustration of the enormous benefits we derive from their copious presentations.

Whether you reside in the Chester area or are visiting this enthralling Roman City you should experience the atmosphere of the Open Air Theatre at least once in your lifetime.


Andrew D Thompson