The Comedy of Errors at Thornbury Castle

June 9

2.30pm

Thornbury Castle Hotel

£10.50 to £15.50 inc booking fee

AS their name implies, Thornbury’s Downpour Theatre Company are ready to perform in all weathers.

So when they bring one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies to Thornbury Castle, the audience can be assured that whatever the weather, the show will go on. The Thornbury performance of The Comedy of Errors is one of six al fresco dates on a tour of outdoor venues the actors will visit in June and July.

The company’s distinctive name pays tribute to members’ love of open-air theatre – and to a rather damp previous performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It is a small independent company, founded three years ago by Sarah and Andrew Cullyer, who met through a university theatre society. They originally called it Merry Mechanicals but changed the name after it was found to be too similar to that of other theatre groups.

Set up as an amateur group, specifically to perform a Shakespeare play at a time when no other am-dram groups in the town were keen to do so, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a success. So, just a year after starting out, Sarah and Andrew took the major step of registering as a professional theatre company and changed the group’s name to Downpour.

Sarah said: “Andrew and I have always had theatre bucket list – lists of plays we desperately wanted to be part of or experiences like performing open-air Shakespeare – and we didn’t want to look back in 20 years and say ‘what if?’ and wish we had been braver.”

The company will also perform The Comedy of Errors at Stroud, Thornbury, Dursley, Miserden, Cirencester and Ashton Court as part of the Bristol Shakespeare Festival.

Sarah said: “South Gloucestershire and the surrounding areas have some absolutely stunning open-air venues, and we fell in love with the idea of taking our shows to some of those wonderful places. I mean, really, is there anything better than watching some hilarious open-air theatre in beautiful surroundings in the sunshine?”

The play is Shakespeare’s shortest and, some argue, his wittiest. The cast will transport their audience to the Byzantine Empire, where two sets of identical twins, separated by tragedy, find themselves unknowingly in the same city. Mistaken identities lead to all kinds of mishaps as the story develops.

The play is less than two hours long including the interval. The performance in the grounds of Thornbury Castle Hotel will be on Sunday June 9 at 2.30pm, is the first of the season.

For information on the summer tour and how to book tickets go to the group’s website.