Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rococo with Richard

DSC01960 (1300x1265)We arrived hours early for the production: it’s hard to gauge distance and traffic through SoGlo (South Gloucestershire) so best to start out early.  Our birthday destination was a restored rococo garden, the setting for a frolic through Shakespeare's tragedy Richard III as performed by a traveling bicycle quartet.

‘Only in Britain.

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The weekend began with morning celebrations amidst a block party celebrating the Queens’ birthday.  My contribution, a deconstructed black-forest cake, was much better in concept than execution.  The rich-chocolate and sour-cream-vanilla layer cakes were lovely, but the cherry butter icing failed to set properly, slumping off  the cake as temperature rose. 

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I improved on it whilst waiting for my laundry to finish, adding two packs of icing sugar at the suggestion of onlookers in the carpark.  The result was 4th-grade amateur: I shaved chocolate on top rather than making a ganache, covering flaws with cherries and ornamental flowers.

Never mind, it tasted better than it looked.

The weekend’s venue, Berwick Lodge, was far more stylish.  A converted country house with sweeping views over the Severen and a killer afternoon tea-and-cakes, it foreshadowed a nice evening of theater on the lawn.

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The Painswick Rococo Gardens were created in the 1700s as an ornamental setting for casual parties and frivolous behaviour.  Restored in the 1970s, it’s a striking arrangement across a narrow valley, with a maze, vegetable gardens, and ornamental pools.

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DSC01811 (1300x867)The evening of Shakespeare was held in a grassy sward, blankets sat ahead of folks with chairs.  The play was performed by the Handlebards, a wonderful troupe of four actors playing around 41 parts of the play.  They covered it all, but with a lot of light-hearted mugging and joking asides that lightened the intrigue and murder of the script.  Wonderfully engaging, it is well worth attending this summer.

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