Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre and Storyhouse have worked magic to bring some live theatre to Chester in these dark and uncertain times. From conception to first night took just two weeks as this incredibly talented group of actors, under the direction of Storyhouse Artistic director Alex Clifton, mostly rehearsed online, only coming together a mere four days before opening and staging the whole show in two days.
Staging a show during a time of social distancing is a tricky business, but this group somehow made it look and feel completely natural. Keeping a distance from each other and, unlike other years, keeping a distance from the audience rather than running between them. We were still fully engaged and completely involved.
Danielle Bird, Nichole Bird, Lowri Izzard, Mari Izzard, Danielle Henry, Jessica Dives, Anton Cross and Simeon Truby delivered this very clever, witty and endearing play with such force and passion, captivating the audience with slapstick comedy and mistaken identity. Four of the cast played a multitude of characters, jumping between each character with ease and believability.
As well as playing numerous characters, Dives was also Musical director, bringing modern music with a twist to this classic play to add an extra depth.
The show was designed by Jessica Curtis, with Therese Denis as Wardrobe supervisor. Costume played a huge part in the show as the set was open and basic but used very well, so costume absolutely helped to tell the story.
Not only were the actors socially distanced but the way the Storyhouse ushers worked to ensure the audience were kept safe was incredible. Audience members entered in three time slots, asked to wear a mask until you take your seat and use the hand sanitiser. You were then shown to your seat with two metres being measured out to show where the next group could sit. Running at 25% capacity, I did worry it would look and feel empty, but it absolutely did not. This was a piece of magic and truly a superb example of a show of this type.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening with lots of laughs and a couple of surprises.
A huge well done to Clifton and his team for working so hard to not only bring live theatre to the audiences, but to bring work back to some in this industry, the actors, stage managers, designers and technicians, serving the community and helping save jobs.
The Comedy of Errors at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre is playing until the 30th August with limited availability. https://www.grosvenorparkopenairtheatre.co.uk/show/the-comedy-of-errors/
Reviewer: Damian Riverol
Reviewed: 9th August 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★