The play’s the thing at St Albans Shakespeare Festival

Henry V

Henry V - Credit: Archant

After months in the planning, OVO’s St Albans Shakespeare Festival gets underway tomorrow night (11) and launches straight into a week of highly-acclaimed productions.

Pocket Dream

Pocket Dream - Credit: Archant

The festival opens this Saturday, March 12, with the all-male Propeller Theatre Company putting on two performances of Pocket Dream, their take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It is the final night of Propeller’s UK tour of a play which they have aimed to make accessible to all, particularly secondary school students.

After an hour the audience is invited into the performance space to talk with the actors about the play, acting, Shakespeare and anything else the show has brought to mind.

Pocket Dream is being shown at 3.30pm and 6.30pm.

The Devil Speaks True

The Devil Speaks True - Credit: Archant

The same principle applies at 8pm next Tuesday, March 15, when Goat and Monkey, a theatre company from Lewes, put on The Devil Speaks True, a different take on Macbeth.

Told from the point of view of Banquo, the action takes place often in complete darkness using headphones, binaural sound, scent and projection. Shakespeare’s text is interwoven with interviews with present day military veterans to produce a chilling exploration of the psychological effects of war.

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Shakespeare is not a common theme for stand-up comedy but Nicholas Collett is an exception. His show Your Bard is set in a pub where Nicholas mulls over whether there really was a man called William Shakespeare who wrote all those plays, or was he a butcher’s boy from the countryside, a front man for a poetic lord or was it just a case of mistaken identity.

Nicholas takes the lid off a legend by playing a few of his greatest hits and having a pint from 8pm next Friday, March 18.

To end the first week next Saturday, March 19, Merely Theatre visit St Albans with their production of Henry V as part of a nationwide tour.

Continuing with the festival theme of making Shakespeare accessible to all audiences, Merely have taken the famous story of young King Henry’s famous victory at Agincourt while outnumbered, but underestimated, by the French.

The show uses football shirts to separate the French and English armies in Shakespeare’s most patriotic history play to portray the birth of modern England. It starts at 8pm.

The St Albans Shakespeare Festival runs until June 4. All the shows in the first week are being held in the Maltings Arts Theatre but other venues will be used before it finishes. The centrepiece is a pageant in the city on Saturday, April 23, the date of Shakespeare’s birth and death.

Full details of the festival are available here. Tickets for all productions can be obtained through OVO’s online ticketing site, in person at St Albans Tourist & Information Centre, Town Hall, Market Place, or by phone on 0333 666 3366.