During the summer holidays, we were invited along to a performance by Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre at Blenheim Palace. There were four different plays on offer; Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Richard III. I love watching Shakespeare being performed and as much as I’d have liked to watch one of the more serious productions, I thought this invitation would offer the perfect opportunity to introduce my son to the bard for the first time. Having seen A Midsummer’s Night Dream performed on a few occasions, I thought it would be the one most suitable for children.
We were given a family ticket, so it meant we could enjoy seeing Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre at Blenheim Palace with my friend and her ten-year-old son too. The sun was shining and we headed off to Blenheim Palace ahead of the performance so we could enjoy a picnic in the grounds.
But there was also a Shakespeare Village green offering a range of food and drinks options, as well as some entertainment.
The theatre is a very clever pop-up theatre, based on the London Rose Playhouse which was built before The Globe, in 1587. From the outside, you have no idea if the stage is completely under cover or not. Once inside you find three tiered balconies and an open-roofed area in front of the stage offering standing room, although when we were there, the majority of people sat down to watch the performance. It gave a really unusual feel to the experience and one we all enjoyed being part of.
I thought the boys both coped well with the performance of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. My son struggled a little with the dialogue in the first act but the humour kept him interested and we were all laughing our way through the second act. The cast was excellent, especially Bottom who really stole the show. I did have to explain to my son that Oberon was being played by a woman, whilst Titania was played by a man, as that threw him to start with. I then also explained that in Shakespeare’s time, all of the parts would have been played by men, which he found rather funny.
It’s such a fun story, that it’s perfect for children in upper Key Stage Two and above in my opinion. All in all, we had a thoroughly enjoyable time experiencing Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre at Blenheim Palace and their performance of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It was a great first introduction to Shakespeare for my son and it showed him that there’s more to the bard then sinister plots.
disclosure: we were gifted tickets to the performance as a thank you for our work with Blenheim Palace over the last year. We were under no obligation to write about the experience.