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much ado flyer 1For many of our readers the name St Monica's Players is probably synonymous with pantomimes and light-hearted musicals, but SMP Theatre, as they now call themselves, have another, more serious side, which has been on show at drama festivals in Waltham Forest and more recently in Welwyn Garden City.  A few years back I was in the audience for a gripping abridged version of Romeo and Juliet at the Waltham Forest Festival of Theatre, which provided an opportunity to demonstrate that their finely honed choreographic skills can be used to present tragedy as well as light entertainment.

Having lost the venue that was their home for many years - the Intimate in Palmers Green - SMP Theatre will for their next production be moving outdoors.  The venue:  Bury Lodge Park, now looking gorgeous thanks to some TLC from its Friends group;  the play: a "promenade performance" of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing;  the production dates: 5th - 8th June, at 7.30pm.  One of the Bard's more light-hearted works, Much Ado is ideal for showing off SMP Theatre's ability to combine "proper" acting with sheer entertainment.

The play is a hilarious tale of misunderstandings, love and deception. Set in the country home of Leonata, Benedick and Claudio find themselves reacquainted with Beatrice and Hero. As memories of conflict give way to parties and masked balls, Claudio and Hero fall madly, deeply in love, while Benedick and Beatrice reignite their own altogether more combative courtship. But the villainous Don John vows to ensure the course of love runs far from smooth.

much ado flyer 2The show will be an immersive, intimate and personal performance. As our audience arrive they become part of the ensemble and as the story flows they move through the park as one of Leonata’s, our play’s hosts, guests.

The audience become part of the cast as they are guided through Bury Lodge Park's beautiful surroundings and the experience will be unique to each audience member as they choose how they view the performance. The show is free flowing and natural with little or no barrier between cast and audience. There is no fourth wall, the audience are guided through the action, some of which takes part amongst them and some which is more classically staged. The abridged version of the play contains music and dancing and promises to be a fresh and original experience.

Warren McWilliams, who both produced the show and plays the part of Dogberry, promises the audience a unique experience:  “This show has been great fun to be a part of. The freedom to come up with new ideas along with the production team has been really liberating. It’s completely different from anything we’ve previously done, which is all rather exciting.”

Director David Bowman, is proud of what he and the cast have achieved together:  "One of the great strengths of this company is their capacity to develop new creative talent and ideas – I’m very excited to see what they bring to this!"

The audience is limited to 100 people per performance so you are advised to book early to avoid missing out. As the performance is not static, audience members are welcome to bring a lightweight chair or blanket to sit on. Limited numbers of portable chairs will be available to hire.

Performances run from Wednesday 5th – Saturday 8th June 2019 at 7.30pm in Bury Lodge Park, Bury Street West, Edmonton N9 9LA. Tickets are £10/£9 and available at www.smptheatre.co.uk. The park is accessible for wheelchair users.

much ado flyer 3

Now that the Intimate Theatre has closed, SMP Theatre have had to find a new venue for their annual pantomime.  For this year's production of Cinderella they will be moving to the Assembly Hall in Chingford, where there is a very large stage, which the Players will be taking full advantage of.  Chingford Overground station isn't far away (change from the Victoria Line at Walthamstow Central) and there are buses that stop outside from Enfield and Edmonton.

If you would like to take part in Cinderella, you can find details at www.smptheatre.co.uk/join-us-for-cinderella.

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