Rug up and watch two Shakespeare plays under the stars this April with Shakespeare by the Bay. It’s all thanks to Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel and Bard on the Beach joining forces. Together, they present two of Shakespeare’s top plays: the tragedy Romeo and Juliet and the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor.
The plays are performed in the park next to Watson’s Bay Hotel — right under the huge fig trees. Talkative flying foxes add a layer of pure Australia to the performance. With Sydney’s skyline gleaming in the background, the Bard on the Beach theatre troupe performs their two Shakespearean plays.
Settle down on a picnic blanket or on some camp chairs and get ready for an evening of unadulterated entertainment.
They alternate between the two plays. (How they’re able to remember the dialogue of two separate plays is a testament to the actors’ abilities.) We caught Bard on the Beach’s performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor. I’d been wanting to see it for ages. The team did not disappoint. Under the direction of Patricia Rowling, the 15 actors cavorted, proclaimed, and kept us highly entertained.
I’d recommend a quick read-through of the plot before you go. Like all Shakespearean plays, there are twists galore, intersecting plotlines, and many a character. Simply put: middle-aged Falstaff tries to seduce two married women. They play hilarious tricks on him (and even their husbands). Eventually, everyone ends up happy — it’s a comedy, after all!
Standout performances were by Martin Estridge as Falstaff, and Robert Gray as both Slender (a courtier) and Dr. Caius (an over-the-top French physician, in a medieval plague doctor mask). While some of the costumes seemed out of place — the two merry wives looked more Victorian in their hoop skirts then Elizabethan — the era was captured well.
Centuries of people have enjoyed this play. No doubt they saw it in much the same kind of settings, by travelling players, as we Sydneysiders get to enjoy it.
During intermission, my +1 and I hurried to the bar for a mid-performance drink. Hot chocolate is highly recommended on cold nights. Plus you can pre-order a picnic pack for your dining pleasure (olives, dips, pasta salad, and more). Takeaway drinks are also available from the friendly bar staff — and the bar is open after the performance, too, so you can make it an entire evening.
There’s nothing better than watching Shakespeare be performed under the stars, with Sydney gleaming on the horizon. Head to Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel to see Shakespeare on the Bay this season. It’s a fabulous night out that you’ll long remember.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa can now check another play off her Shakespeare spreadsheet.