A sure sign that summer is finally here is when the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park kicks off its annual season. The highlight of the 2002 program is a production of Romeo and Juliet, which begins previews on May 28 and opens on June 5.
The tale of young love set against the background of two warring families in medieval Verona is one of Shakespeare's most popular plays and will pack in school trips as well as individual theatregoers. A visit to the Open Air Theatre to see a Shakespeare is a school tradition that dates back to the 1930's when the theatre started.
The play's central theme — of the passion and pain of young love — has a particular resonance with young people, though it works just as well with those whose first love is a little way behind them now.
Youth — and the tragedy of its being snuffed out in its prime thanks to the quarrels of others — is also the central theme of another Open Air production that begins previews on July 23 and opens on July 25 — Joan Littlewood's Oh! What a Lovely War.
This 1960's musical, using songs of the First World War period in which it is set, is a powerful indictment of that war's enormous casualty list.
In between these two is another Shakespeare, As You Like It, one of his darker comedies. All three plays will use the Open Air Theatre's setting to best advantage (As You Like It is largely set in a forest).
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow