Is my memory of this wonderful night heavily painted with Prosecco? Why yes, yes it is. But worry not fair readers, yours truly has an annoying habit of recalling even the tiniest detail from her sozzled brain, and this evening was no exception.
Let’s start with the free booze – a tempting lure if ever there was one. For the second year in a row Storyhouse have dangled the carrot of a no-strings-attached bottle of Prosecco with every booking, and for the second year in a row I’ve happily complied. What sweetens the effect is noting (after receiving said bottle in ice bucket, with two plastic glasses), that it’s on sale to anyone who wants to buy it at £25.
Yes, there’s a bar, and cake, and the interval sees them selling popcorn, hot drinks and blankets. But the real cherry on top here is that you can take anything you want in to the show. There’s no bag checks, no raised eyebrows as you roll in a keg (I wouldn’t exactly recommend trying this). And you can picnic to your little heart’s delight (Cestrians seem to favour M&S). You see it all, from organised couples with fold up coffee tables and hampers galore, to those with pizza boxes underarm and daring youths trying to delicately build scones. So if you don’t want to fork our further that your ticket price on the night, you really don’t have to.
What I’m trying to say is that before the show’s begun, when the sun’s out, and the crowd’s gathering, and the Brits are at their civilised best, you’re already having a great time.
It really was an added bonus that the cast smashed it. It was magical, beautifully choreographed and lit to perfection. The laughter was plentiful, and we were all quickly charmed and whisked away. Despite the small space and minimal props, great things were achieved, emphasised further still as the sun set and the true madness of the play reached its peak. The actors ran and sang amongst us, climbing through the crowd. They all seemed genuinely thrilled to be performing and at ease when things didn’t go to plan (this only made it funnier).
As the music faded out, and the applause died down, it was clear that none of us really wanted to go home. We could of happily stayed there all night giggling and chatting away, fuelled by our huge quantities of snacks.
My only small criticism was that the finale song, intended to really pump up the audience one last time, didn’t quite deliver. The singer’s voice was drowned out by the music, and it never built to anything particularly stirring. If they’d of gone for Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ a la A Knight’s Tale, and had us all pounding our feet and clapping our hands, we would’ve been totally on board (but maybe brought down the theatre?)
Small niggles aside, it really is the highlight of my summer. As long as Storyhouse offer this open-air sensation, I’ll be there, free Prosecco or no. I’ll book early and eagerly and dress for all-weather (best book the covered seating just incase; no one likes a soggy sandwich).