It seems so long since any of us could enjoy a trip to the theatre, so we were really excited (if a little nervous) to visit The Courtyard once again, with tickets for the first live show of the play Hopeless Romantics, written by Nick Lane and Fiona Wass. Last night's performance was the first live show at The Courtyard since lock down - and by that I mean lockdown one, many moons ago. The whole experience proved to spark quite a rollercoaster of emotions.
Despite passing 'freedom day', (a milestone which gave me a mix of happiness and terror in roughly equal amounts), we were reassured to be welcomed in by the friendliest of staff all radiating happy smiles from behind their face shields. The message was immediately one of cautious optimism, huge excitement, and genuine pleasure to be welcoming the audience of their first live show back through The Courtyard doors. Visitor and staff safety is obviously still a major priority here, thankfully 'freedom day' had not resulted in throwing any ounce of caution to the wind, and that put us at ease immediately. Most of us know someone who is still at risk after all, so it felt good to be going out knowing our evening of entertainment would not be at the expense of anyone else's health a few days down the line!
The lovely new extension and Chase Bar on the first floor blend in perfectly with the original foyer / cafe area of pre-lockdown days (so much so I had to remind myself it had changed), and it offers so much more light and airy space now. The Chase bar outside balcony seated area proved really popular, especially on a warm summer evening. You could easily be tempted to stay a while! But we were keen to take our seats for the show (we may have popped back up to The Chase bar after the show though...).
Hopeless Romantics is a light hearted and fun play with adult themes; it is not one for the children but is certainly a play many of our adult /parent readers would thoroughly enjoy. After all the home teaching, and seemingly endless months of enforced 24:7 'family time' together, this play is the perfect reason for a well deserved night off! So book the child minder / babysitter right now, this show is one to go see. The play is only on until 24th July so be quick (get your tickets here). Why are you still reading this? You can come back to this once the babysitter is sorted... so yeah, go do that first!
Welcome back! I won't give any spoilers - I hate seeing the trailers of films, to then find I have already seen all the best bits when I get round to watching it, but here is a great synopsis which gives you the gist without ruining a thing.
In an age of internet dating, speed dating, blind dating, and Tinder, isn’t it easier to find someone these days? Alan doesn’t think so. He’s single. Very, very single. Not that that’s a problem, but when your sisters are all living romantic dreams and everyone’s on your back to know when you’ll be bringing someone home, the pressure tends to mount somewhat. So with his family gathering for an anniversary dinner, Al does something rather reckless–he pays Zoe, a girl from work, to pose as his girlfriend for the night.
We found the play was very true to modern life - in fact every character reminded us of someone we know, and that in itself had us laughing. Playing several characters takes great acting talent to pull off well - Chandrika Chevli and Elliott Rennie certainly pulled it off! But personally I found the character Zoe (played by Hannah Douglas) was the most amusing and in depth. Her part was very cleverly written, and beautifully acted (yes, she even made me cry, and I am pretty sure I am not the only one). Al (played perfectly by Blake Aidan) is quite painfully socially awkward, lacking in confidence, and proves the ideal contrast to Zoe - their interactions moved us to laughter and a few tears, and left us wanting to see a sequel!
As a first night out to a live show, we couldn't have wished for a better one, so cleverly written and beautifully preformed. It was also quite overwhelming knowing how long we have waited, all the while hoping our arts venues like The Courtyard would survive through these past 16 months. The sheer joy and relief I felt to witness these first tentative steps was something I hadn't expected. It reinforced my genuine belief - we all need to support our amazing arts venues to make sure they are there for generations to come. I hate to imagine my grandchildren growing up without The Courtyard and all it has to offer.
We are now really looking forwards to the next live show we have booked to see, the musical 'Marry Me A Little' with songs by Stephen Sondheim, at The Courtyard in August.
For those who missed the show’s live run from 20 – 24 July, or who simply want the chance to see it again or share it with friends, The Courtyard are making the production available to watch online, via its website until 11pm on Tuesday 31 August. Tickets can be purchased on a pay-what-you-can basis, starting at just £5, for the whole household.
The performance was filmed by The Courtyard’s media partners Wild Edric Media. The film production company have previously worked alongside The Courtyard to produce digital versions of its pantomime and Christmas children’s show and helped to create an information video for reopening after the covid lockdown. Wild Edric Media will also be improving The Courtyard’s accessibility programme by adding subtitles, BSL Signing and Audio Described services to recorded and streamed shows, ensuring productions can be enjoyed by all online viewers.
Hopeless Romantics will be available to watch online until Tuesday 31 August. To book tickets, or for more information visit courtyard.org.uk or contact the Box Office on 01432 340555.
Hopeless Romantics is supported with funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation
Mum. Nan. And editor of Raring2go! Hereford & Worcester.