Where to See London’s Best Alfresco Theatre
Lead image: Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
1 Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre continues with the epic As You Like It, a firm favourite among Shakespeare’s comedies, from 6-28 July. The production, directed by Max Webster, stars Olivia Vinall and Edward Hogg, who will take you on a journey through the mythical Forest of Arden, a world of transformation where anything is possible and anything permissible. Tickets £25-£55. Following that, Little Shop of Horrors will enthrall audiences from 3 August until 15 September. Directed by Maria Aberg, the production sees Seymour, Audrey and East Side florist Mr Mushnik tussle with a new plant that has killer potential. Tickets £55-£59.
Inner Circle, Regent’s Park NW1 4NU; openairtheatre.com
2 River Stage, National Theatre
The National Theatre’s River Stage, one of London’s largest free outdoor arts festivals, returns for a fourth year this July and August. Running over five weekends, there will be live music, DJs, family workshops, club nights and theatre taking over the stage riverside stage. Event’s include HOME Manchester, a line-up of northern performers and musicians (20-22 July); music, dance and spoken word from Sadler’s Wells (27-29 July); nonclassical, bringing together the best in new classical, electronic and experimental music (3-5 August); plus a mix of family focused workshops, sing along bands, circus and live music from the National Theatre on the final weekend (10-11 August). You can also tuck into treats from The Cheese Iron, Campfire Pizza and cocktails at the riverside bar, Apothecary. Performances run Friday-Sunday from 13 July through 11 August.
Upper Ground, Lambeth SE1 9PX; nationaltheatre.org
3 The Tempest & The Three Musketeers at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
Iris Theatre is bringing two productions to St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden this summer. First up it’s The Tempest, Shakespeare’s final solo play, which will see St Paul’s Church transformed into a mysterious island in a production full of pomp, magic and illusion. Then, it’s the The Three Musketeers from 2 August until 2 September, with a performance full of heroic deeds, epic sword fights and a lavish masquerade ball in the grounds of the church. Tickets £20 (under 16s, £14).
Bedford Street, Covent Garden WC2E 9ED; iristheatre.com
4 London’s Free Open Air Theatre Season at The Scoop
London’s free outdoor theatre returns to The Scoop, in the shadow of the Tower Bridge, for its 15th year. New adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and King Arthur will run from 8 August until 2 September, completely free of charge. The Wizard of Oz will run from 6pm Wednesdays to Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays, while King Arthur will run from 7.30pm Wednesdays to Saturdays and 5.30pm on Sundays.
Queen’s Walk SE1 2DB; freeopenairtheatre.org
5 Outdoor Theatre, Canary Wharf
The Outdoor Theatre in Canary Wharf has a host of free alfresco productions lined up through July and into August, all set to take place in a new location in Westferry Circus. See Romeo and Juliet, brought to you be a riotous all-female troupe, on 23 July, The Importance of Being Earnest by The Pantaloons, who infuse Wilde’s witty words with snappy new songs and physical theatre, on 6 August and comic melodrama in A Woman of No Importance on 13 August. All performances are free and start at 7pm. Audience space is unreserved and limited, so do get there early to secure your spot!
Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf E14 8RH; canarywharf.com
6 The Pirates of Penzance, Fulham Palace
Fulham Palace is continuing their stellar programme of outdoor theatre this month in the beautiful surroundings of the gardens. Following on from The Merchant of Venice on 3 August, The Pirates of Penzance takes over on 16 August, with its swashbuckling comedy opera. The performance takes part in two acts with hilarious melodrama, sharp satire and glittering wit, packed full of memorable melodies such as To Be a Pirate King! and Modern Major General. 7pm-10pm. Adults £15, kids £10, under 3s £3. The event will go ahead in all weather, unless it is unsafe to do so. Seating is not provided.
Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham SW6 6EA; fulhampalace.org