Fresh bout of heartbreak for the Botanicals and more Pantaloon-acy

Much Ado About Nothing Heartbreak Productions - Hero played by Philippa Flynn
Much Ado About Nothing Heartbreak Productions - Hero played by Philippa Flynn
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THE prospect of staging outdoor theatre in our mostly washout summer may seem daunting but the hardy cast of Heatbreak Productions and The Pantaloons are well used to dodgy weather forecasts.

Both companies are returning to the preened environs of Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens in the coming months and for the major al fresco touring company Heartbreak there are two very different offerings to their usual Shakespeare take.

E Nesbit’s family favourite The Railway Children sends a slice of gentle Edwardian lifestyle to the park from August 10-12 when the story of Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis is revived like you’ve never seen it.

Mysteriously separated from their father, Bobbie and her family relocate to Three Chimneys in Yorkshire and set about making friends in the village.

The all-important railway runs like a life vein through the community and its importance grows – learning from the people in and around it, the children rediscover and piece their family back together as the story steams towards a heart-warming and iconic end.

Noel Coward’s comedy Private Lives follows on August 16-19. A canny flashback to the 1930s when the cocktails were flowing and divorced couple Elyot and Amanda are inadvertently reunited on their respective honeymoons to second spouses.

Believing themselves still in love, they abandon their new partners and run off but it’s not long before the champagne bubbles burst and they are back to the arguments that plagued their tempestuous marriage. Coward’s eccentric wit flows through this irreverent, hilarious and sophisticated comedy of glamorous, aristocratic characters seemingly incapable of taking much of anything seriously for long.

Before both of those Heartbreak begin their Botanical season with the Bard’s Much Ado About Nothing, beginning next Thursday until July 1.

Benedick and Beatrice – arguably Shakespeare’s most entertaining and charming couple - take to the stage to engage in their “merry war” and, with both proclaiming they’ll never fall in love, a battle of wits ensues. But, as the airmen return from war and the Home Guard get ready to stand down, be prepared for a bumpy ride of infidelity, deception and mistaken identity.

Amid a flurry of 1940s Air Force uniforms, a whirlwind of war time song and dance, Heartbreak’s sexy, sunny working of the comedy promises audiences a dynamic, poignant and ultimately hilarious production.

Visit for ticket information. By stark contrast, The Pantaloons theatre company are touring two very different, yet equally fun, productions, namely an adaption of the darkly magical Grimm Fairy Tales and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest.

Usually fast-paced, physical and funny productions, the Pantoloons formed in 2004 and swiftly gained a reputation for ambitious and hilarious performances.

The Grimm Fairy Tales remain dark stories but are touched by the funny stick as the frog prince is thrown against a wall, the ugly sisters’ eyes are pecked out by a vengeful wishing-bird and witches come to very grisly ends.

“We try to include something for everyone,” says producer Mark Hayward of the July 13 show.

“Children will love these tales as much as they ever have – particularly the more horrible elements – and adults will enjoy the clever ways in which the tales are staged along with the incredibly funny gags we’ve worked into the show.

“Each fairy tale will be told in a different style. There’s puppetry, poetry, parody, music, magic, masks and even a tale in German – with translators, of course.”

Wilde’s classic comedy of manners arrives the nioght before. First performed in 1895, it’s lines are just as funny today as when the play was penned.

The Pantaloons add contemporary twists and audience interaction to the tale of love, deception and cucumber sandwiches to avoid a simple retread.

“This is a show crammed full of imagination. We’ve taken influence from silent film, Victorian music hall and contemporary physical theatre to compliment Wilde’s brilliant words.”

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