Open-air theatre at Belton House

Guide, The Canterbury Tales at Belton House.

Guide, The Canterbury Tales at Belton House.

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PACK up a picnic and head down to Belton House on Friday, July 22, for a spot of open-air theatre.

Pantaloons Theatre Company will bring Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims to life in a new adaptation of the medieval classic, the Canterbury Tales.

With a contemporary twist, the performance promises to bring music, laughter and tears as a cast of larger than life characters tell their tales of deception and redemption, magic and majesty, life and death.

In what may be a theatrical first, The Pantaloons are performing every single one of the 23 completed Canterbury Tales; no mean feat considering the play features a cast of just six actors playing over 70 characters.

The Pantaloons are not making it easy for themselves as every story will be performed in a different theatrical style. The audience can expect pantomime, puppetry, masks, musicals, mime, farce, reality television, horror, opera – even Shakespeare gets a look-in.

Mark Hayward, co-producer and co-author, said: “There are several tales that are like mini-plays in themselves.

“Famous ones like The Miller’s Tale and The Wife of Bath’s Tale deserve a proper showing. Other stories have been condensed into sketches, songs or even limericks. Many of the lesser-known tales would be rather unpalatable to a modern audience without a good pinch of irony.”

A medieval market precedes the show, with the opportunity to meet the Wife of Bath, who will be dispensing kisses, to buy dubious bread from the Miller, confess all to the Pardoner and, hopefully, avoid an encounter with the Plague Doctor.

This open-air performance promises a great mix of humour, excitement, energy, puppets and clever costume changes.

Visitor services manager at Belton House Mary Kindred said: “We are delighted to welcome Pantaloons Theatre Company to Belton. They are fresh, fun and innovative - and deliver a stunning show.

“Audiences are sure to get hooked on their brand of memorable, magical theatre - and particularly the delightfully humorous, colourful way they bring characters to life.”

The play will take place in the garden, come rain or shine, and will begin at 7pm.

Gates open at 6pm for picnics and the medieval market. Visitors are invited to take along low-backed chairs or rugs. Ice creams and hot drinks will be on sale.

Advance ticket prices are £12 for adults and £9 for children (under-5s get in free). Tickets on the door cost an additional £1.

For tickets and information, call Belton House on 01476 566116.