Eastbourne's Shakespeare relishes summer return

After the first no-show year in its 114-year history, Eastbourne Operatic and Dramatic Society is bouncing back this summer with the promise of a lavish and imaginative production of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies – the play that inspired the evergreen hit musical Kiss Me Kate.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 6:10 am
Will Bianca (Natasha Heath Brown) see through Tranio’s cunning disguise  (Anthony Lusted)
Will Bianca (Natasha Heath Brown) see through Tranio’s cunning disguise (Anthony Lusted)

EODS’ production of The Taming of the Shrew promises all the wit and charm of the Bard at his best in a time frame which has been fast-forwarded to the roaring 20s.

The cast features a blend of new faces and seasoned EODs stalwarts – and they can’t wait to hit the stage after all the frustrations of the past year.

The Taming of the Shrew will run from Friday, July 23 to Saturday, August 7 in Eastbourne’s Italian Gardens. Tickets will be on sale through Eastbourne Theatres box office, 01323 412000.

Chairman Valerie Dormady said: “It was disappointing that we had to cancel everything we were going to do last year.

“But we have tried to be positive and we have tried to plan things for this year, and we have picked up the Shakespeare that we were going to do last year.”

Inevitably it’s no longer quite the same cast who had started to learn the dialogue in 2020 before the show was finally cancelled, and the director has changed too, but the director’s concept for the show has been retained.

Last year was tough, but the fact is there was no choice: “I was directing a play that we were going to put on. We were about three weeks off putting Cash On Delivery. Hopefully we can pick that up later this year. We will do that in our own premises. We were also due to do Chicago. I think it was going to be last November, and we had got a good cast, but we are no longer able to do that because it was withdrawn from amateurs being able to do it. But we have got the rights to Evita which we are hoping to do next April now.

“We do two or three main productions a year and maybe a junior one as well. Last year we tried to keep people updated on what was going on, and we have had a good response.

“We have had some meetings on Zoom and we have started having some meetings now outdoors because we can meet up. We have had several meetings in the Italian Gardens where we do the Shakespeare.

“And everybody is really keen to get back to it. They have started rehearsals.

“The company started in the Italian Gardens in 2000 because of the success the Rude Mechanicals (theatre company) had had there. They were very successful and so we decided to give it a go. The Merchant of Venice was the first one. They didn’t have any seats. They used the building at the end as the stage area and it all just built up. We have developed the whole thing an awful lot since then. The audience are on raked seating. They are under cover. We have a refreshment tent. It has become very much more sophisticated since the start.

“It is very expensive to put on, but we do cover costs quite well and we make a reasonable profit. We can take about 240 seats each night on raked seating within the marquee.

“It is a big production, and the atmosphere is lovely. We have got the sea as the backdrop and it has developed into a very pleasant evening for people. We serve lovely cakes and drinks, and it has become a real event over the years.”