I try to go to at least one performance of Bard in the Botanics every year and I’ve yet to be disappointed. My favourites have included King Lear, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, most recently, Coriolanus, which I went to this year with LoTM and his friends B and M.
Sometimes the plays are done the traditional way, sometimes the Bard in the Botanics team put a bit of a spin on things. So, for example, the version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I saw a couple of years ago featured a lot of sequins and some show tunes – it was unexpected and very, very camp but it totally worked with the play. In this summer’s edition of Coriolanus the main character becomes Caius Marsha rather than Caius Marcius in a clever gender-swapping of the role.
The plays either take place outdoors in the Botanic Gardens, or in a marquee, or in the Kibble Palace which has surprisingly good acoustics! Very occasionally a play gets rained off but I’ve only been unfortunate enough to have that happen once. My understanding is that the usual way of dealing with this is to either offer customers a ticket to a different showing or to give them their money back. It’s rare though, and getting rained on happens less often than getting bitten by midges, so watch out for that!
On this occasion we first met for a meal at Usha’s, an Indian restaurant at the bottom of Byres Road. Usha’s used to have a 100% vegetarian menu but, presumably due to pressure from non-veggie customers eventually moved to a menu with only 50% of the dishes being vegetarian. Aside from that being disappointing from the point of view of vegetarians, I’d also heard mixed reviews about the customer service. Still – I was keen to try it and opted for an all-vegetarian meal. Fortunately everything was delicious and the service was great.
Then, we wandered up Byres Road, briefly stopping at Nardini to get ice cream (yum!) before making out way to the Botanic Gardens. They’re worth visiting at the best of times, especially the Kibble Palace, which is a big glass house full of exotic plants, but Bard in the Botanics certainly gave me a good excuse on this occasion.
I’d never seen or read Coriolanus before and I was careful to not Google it in the weeks leading up to the performance. That meant that it’s the first Shakespeare play I’ve seen where I had no idea what the storyline was or what the conclusion of the play would be. I really, really enjoyed it. It was very exciting and dramatic and the Bard in the Botanics players did a wonderful job. It’s the only one I’m seeing this year but I think I chose the right play.