Worthing Shakespeare season

Joshua Lawson and  Ross Muir as the Two Gentlemen of Verona
Joshua Lawson and Ross Muir as the Two Gentlemen of Verona

Last week she was the Shrew; this week she is the love-torn Julia as The Taming of The Shrew gives way to The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Alexandra Parker is once again in both plays in this year’s double bill from Rainbow Shakespeare in Worthing’s Highdown Gardens – in both of them opposite Ross Muir, the fiery Petruchio last week and the caddish Proteus this.

Both plays are directed by Nick Young. Two Gentlemen runs from July 10-15.

“I have worked with Nick on and off for the last couple of years,” Alexandra says.

“I had an audition with him a couple of years ago for one of his tours, and since then I have done a panto with him and another tour with him. And I did the Shakespeare last year, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“Highdown Gardens are so beautiful. They really are. I have done open-air Shakespeare before. I have done the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival for a couple of years. The only trouble is the weather.”

Alexandra speaks from experience. Last year the rain was torrential for the quality of mercy speech with its line “It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath” – to great amusement.

“This year we are doing another two great plays. Taming can be quite a challenging production to put on particularly with modern audiences and modern sensibilities and the themes that it brings up, but both plays look at exactly the same themes and love in depth.

“And it is great to be working with Ross again. It was really good last year. We played really closely together, and now it is great. We just immediately got into the playful dance of rehearsals really, just to be able to play off each other straight away and have that shorthand immediately rather than thinking ‘Here is a new actor that I don’t know.’ It means that you can get to the truth of the characters you are playing so much more quickly.

“Two Gentlemen is a great play. It is one of Shakespeare’s early plays. He delves into themes that he later explores in the later plays. It is a classic where Julia has to dress up as a boy to sort it all out, the kind of thing that often happens in a Shakespeare play.”

Two close friends are seeking love, but what happens to friendship when they both fall for the same woman?

“I am Julia, and she is a very interesting character. She is faced with some pretty big dilemmas as to how she should behave when she finds out how Proteus has behaved. She shows herself to be a very honourable and forgiving human being, forgiving Proteus’ behaviour where other people might not perhaps have been so forgiving…”

Alexandra believes the fact that probably a lot of people won’t know The Two Gentlemen of Verona will work in the play’s favour.

“I always think it is good to introduce different Shakespeares to people. I think the productions at Highdown Gardens are so well known and well loved that the reputation encourages people to come along and try something new, something that maybe they don’t know.

“I think people will want to come along whatever plays we put on there.”

Evenings at 7.30pm (gates open at 6pm); Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm (gates open at 12.30pm). Tickets from Worthing Theatres or at the gate.

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