Cambridge, England – August 2001

For those of you who logged in recently expecting some in-depth reporting from the North Sea Jazz Festival I am sad to report that at the last moment my press credentials weren’t issued and by this time all the tickets were sold out. I did, however, have a lovely weekend in Amsterdam and will be writing more about this magnificent city in the coming weeks.

Now that most of the students have left the city, the tourist season is seriously beginning to crank up and there are lots of events mushrooming about the city. The other weekend we had an open air music festival, featuring 70’s supergroup Boney M (now I really am showing my age) in the local park. As I have been away a lot I didn’t realise this was taking place till I got stuck in a two hour traffic jam trying to get into town. By all accounts it was a good night out. I also managed to miss most of the Cambridge film festival and had especially enthusiastic reports from my golden haired girlfriend about the French lesbian kung fu flick she went to see whilst I was away.

Whilst I am happy to while away the long summer evenings (does anyone know where the sun has gone this summer?) in Cambridge’s many pubs and bars, I thought that I should at least try to make a token effort to see some culture this summer and have, under duress, bought a ticket to see an open air production of Macbeth.

Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player.

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more

I chose Macbeth especially as this tragic tale of ruthless ambition, murder, treachery and the supernatural is staged in the imposing surroundings of Harvey Court Gardens and its features a lot of mad witches – which sounds just like a visit to my in-laws.

The Festival has become a significant cultural event in the region and attracts upwards of 25,000 visitors for the six productions that run during the eight weeks of the Festival. Many of the visitors are tourists who come back each year to see their favourite productions – I was surprised that the tickets were flying out of the box-office when I popped in last weekend. According to the director, whom I collared for a beer:

An evening at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival is a unique experience. Prior to the performance, members of the audience can picnic in this idyllic setting, before sitting back to enjoy an evening of dynamic and highly visual theatre. The Festival prides itself on an artistic policy which strips away unnecessary theatrical artifice and gimmickry, and the Company exists to provide access for all to these marvellous works without assuming any prior knowledge of the author or the play in question.

Which sounds like a good thing to me as my knowledge of Shakespeare was gained from a Japanese salary man I once taught English to in Tokyo and had learnt everything he knew from comic books.

Other productions that run until the middle of August include:

The Taming of the Shrew

The bard’s spin on love and relationships. The world-weary Petruchio means to marry well, and sets his sights on the unruly Kate. Their turbulent courtship leads to the most unlikely conclusion. Key quote:

We will have rings, and things, and fine array;

And kiss me Kate, we will be married o’Sunday

The Merchant of Venice

Deception, greed and a pound of flesh played out on the watery by-ways of Venice (sounds like a Thomas Mann novel to me). Key line:

If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

As you Like it

The bard’s pastoral comic masterpiece – which is staged in the divine grounds of King’s college. Key quote:

O Sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.

Labours Love Lost

A comedy about the trials and tribulations of going without love for three years. Key quote:

Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves,

Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Perhaps the most famous of Wills’ works – a fairy tale of enchanting dimensions (according to my secretary anyway). Key quote:

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet

Are of imagination all compact

Booking Details

Ticket prices:

£10.00 (£7.00 concession) available on the door and in advance from:

City Centre Box Office

Wheeler Street


Tel. 01223 357-851

Party bookings

Please contact the CSF direct on: 01223 511-139 to discuss your needs.

Well, that about wraps up another month’s update. I am off on another European tour again now and shall be reporting from Western Jutland and Southern Norway in the coming weeks. Have a good week wherever you are in the world. Ja mata!

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