SHAKESPEARE is back in the park at the Maynardville Open-Air Festival for its annual play in the Wynberg amphitheatre, as has been the case since 1956 (with the exception of the Covid years). This year it’s the turn of Romeo & Juliet, with a run ending on 24 February.
Interspersed with once-off Sunday evening concerts including a songbook of scores from the musical genre in A Night at the Musicals (11 February) and Friends in Harmony – a choral celebration on 25 February to close the season.
Directed by Geoffrey Hyland, this production of the tragic romance stars Nathum Hughes (who you may have seen in Darby and the Dead, Altrad and Body Count on television) as Romeo and LAMTA graduate Simone Neethling (Arendsvlei) as Juliet. Shakespeare’s original three-hour play has been given a hard prune to take it down to 110 minutes with no interval. Romeo & Juliet is also this year’s matric setwork, so young audiences are extra motivated to see the Bard’s work as it should be – performed not read. The tale is one of young, sometimes foolish, love. For Romeo and Juliet, it’s delirious love at first sight and the unfolding anguish of love denied, as family politics and well-meaning friends muddy the waters of their new romance, leading to their fatal actions.
Hyland cast former etv news anchor Pat Pillai (who returns to the stage after a 20-year hiatus) as Lord Capulet – Juliet’s cruel and oppressive father – and well known Cape Talk presenter and stage actor, John Maytham as the Prince of Verona, both of whose presence lends gravitas to the young cast.
Part of the magic of Maynardville is the experience of packing a picnic to enjoy on the lawns of the Wynberg park. You also have the option to buy your dinner from a range of food vendors including poke bowls, Mexican, pizzas and burgers. There’s a full bar and pop-up coffee shop with sweet treats.
Call Maynardville Open Air Theatre Festival on 069 792 6020 (10am-4pm daily) or leave a WhatsApp to get a response. Prices range between R190 and R320 with concessions available for pensioners, students and families. Book at Quicket.
PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Muller