Thursday 31 May – Sunday 3 June 2018
For our third annual spring visit to Shakespeare’s Stratford, we have secured tickets to three excellent plays. We will see Sir Antony Sher playing the lead in a play that never ceases to astonish, King Lear, arguably Shakespeare’s greatest play. The turbulent world of Lear from court to beach to storm on a heath addresses timeless themes of human cruelty, love, and the frailties and follies of old age. Extraordinarily vivid language alternates between stabbing realism and evocative lyricism. Perhaps less well known is Webster’s magnificent (and timely) The Duchess of Malfi, a strong woman destroyed by her corrupt brothers in a violent revenge tragedy full of toxic masculinity and dark humour. Brilliantly directed by Maria Aberg whose work has been described as ‘soul-scouring theatre’. These intense moments will be deliciously offset by a newly discovered Restoration comedy of manners, The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich, written by late 17c English novelist and playwright Mary Pix, and directed by Jo Davies. An Encyclopaedia of British Women Writers (1998) describes Pix’s comedic work as ‘lively and full of double plots, intrigue, confusion, songs, dances and humorous disguise.’
We punctuate first class performances with enlightening lectures and in-depth visits in the surrounding countryside. At Coughton Court, a magnificent Warwickshire house of the period, onetime home of dazzling Elizabethan Throckmorton, lover of Sir Walter Raleigh, we are taken round by a member of the Throckmorton family. We explore Beauchamp Chapel in St Marys Warwick, extremely likely to have been known to Shakespeare, one of the finest medieval works of art in Britain.