In the beautiful surrounds of Lytham Hall, a glass of bubbly to hand and the excited chatter of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win in the air, it would be easy to let your mind wander from a wordy Shakespeare play for just a moment.
Do so at your peril – As You Like It, produced by Illyria at the outdoor venue on Sunday evening, is about as verbose as the bard’s work comes.
The five-strong cast played to a record audience of 365, cosied up on blankets, shaded from hot sun by the trees and ever so discreetly popping open bottles of wine between scenes - is there a better way to watch theatre?
Making up for a sparse set the five actors, including Lytham-born James Dangerfield, filled the roles of around two dozen characters, from the playful Rosalind dressed up as Ganymede to showstopping sheep and a glorious sunshine.
Theatre organiser Julian Wilde said: “The glorious summer weather, the tennis and an outstanding performance by the five cast members from Illyria all contributed to a very significant feel-good factor.
“It was a memorable evening in every way.”
James Dangerfield, who played the love-struck Orlando as well as a loveless sheep, said the cast had thoroughly enjoyed the performance too.
He said: “Sunday was just a perfect day.
“I feel the Lytham Hall audience is always very responsive and we fed on their enthusiasm and support.”
Those watching were certainly enthusiastic, cheering along the cast who never faltered, producing a slick but predominantly fun show.
Running for just short of three hours the performance really tested the stamina of the actors.
And it tested the stamina of some of the audience a little too – note to self: take a chair next time.
Illyria will be back at Lytham Hall next week, on Tuesday July 16, at 7.30pm, with Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.
For tickets, contact: (01253)736652 or visit: www.lythamhall.co.uk