Basildon Hall, a beautiful National Trust property in West Berkshire, was the setting for an outdoor production of Pride and Prejudice by the Illyria theatre company Friday night.
Members of the audience are encouraged to bring picnics, and the sound of champagne corks popping greeted us as we arrived. Picnics are a huge part of the British summer, and open air productions of plays and concerts are very popular here - despite our often rainy weather! Friday night was beautiful however, warm and clear, perfect for a bit of al fresco theatre. The stage backed on to the beautiful Basildon Hall, which is no stranger to Pride and Prejudice, having itself starred as Netherfield in the 2005 film adaptation of the play. It was the perfect setting, and it was lovely sitting in the grounds with our friends, nibbling on our picnic treats and sipping champagne as we watched the story unfold.
We were so impressed by Illyria’s production. There were actually only five cast members, and yet they managed to play all the characters very effectively. There was perhaps a bit more humour in this production than Jane Austen originally intended, but it was definitely to the benefit of the audience. We all had a wonderful time, and I was almost sorry when Elizabeth and Mr Darcy finally wed - although I do love a happy ending!
Illyria are performing in many UK locations this summer, and in addition to Pride and Prejudice, are also performing Roald Dahl’s James and The Giant Peach and Shakespeare’s classic, Romeo and Juliet. For more information on Basildon Park including opening times, please click here.