Much ado outdoors

Round & About

Summer wouldn’t be summer without a spot of open-air Shakespeare, and Progress Theatre is bringing Much Ado About Nothing to Reading’s medieval Abbey Ruins.

Written right at the end of the 16th century, Much Ado About Nothing is, of course, a comedy, albeit one with a hint of darkness. It also explores the meanings of loyalty, chivalry and true love.

In this al fresco production Progress Theatre shifts the time and place of the story from Italy’s Messina to an English country house at the end of World War II.

Director Trevor Dale, a veteran of many local Shakespeare productions, says: “One of the key elements of this play is the speed with which the romance emerges – these aren’t people who can afford the luxury of a long courtship. The war in Europe is over, but people would have been mindful of the continuing conflict in the Far East.

“Historically, there was a lot of social change at this time than after World War I, and so much of the humour and conflict comes from the difference in the social positions of men and women. So I wanted to highlight the strength of women in relation to men.

He continues: “Being outside really adds to the show – Shakespeare’s plays would originally have been performed in an open-air theatre. On top of that, the Abbey makes for an amazing backdrop and that alone is a reason to see it.”

Much Ado About Nothing is at Reading Abbey Ruins, from Wednesday, 11th July until Saturday, 21st July.

To book a ticket, visit