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Shakespeare at Beaulieu

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Enjoy Shakespeare in the beautiful setting of Beaulieu Abbey

Castle Theatre Company, from the University of Durham, present one of Shakespeare’s most iconic and witty comedies, Twelfth Night. The complex tale of lost siblings, mistaken identities and drunk knights is at once moving, side-splittingly fund and builds to a genuinely heart-warming ending.

After a horrible shipwreck, the noblewoman Viola is separated from her twin brother, Sebastian. Assuming her brother has drowned and fearing for her life because she washed ashore in enemy territories, she disguises herself as a boy and gains employment in the house of the nearest Duke, called Orsino. The Duke is trying to get the wealthy heiress Olivia to marry him. After taking a liking to the new ‘boy’, Orsino sends Viola to propose on his behalf, despite the fact Viola has fallen head-over-heels in love with the Duke himself.

Meanwhile, at Olivia’s mansion, the fool Feste returns after a year’s travel; he is scorned by the snobbish steward Malvolio, who has designs upon his mistress and considers himself the de facto Lord. And Sir Toby Belch, the Lady’s cousin, is warned about his heavy drinking. Worried that his rich relatives will stop subsidising his hedonistic lifestyle, he summons his young friend, Sir Andrew, to woo Olivia so that he can continue to live with her. All the while, Olivia has been using the recent death of her brother to avoid making any choices about her marriage.

Into this walks Viola, with whom Olivia falls madly in love, thinking she was a boy. As everyone competes for Olivia’s hand in marriage, Sir Toby becomes worried that such rivalry will be too much for Sir Andrew. After a severe dressing down from Malvolio, Sir Toby plots to make Olivia think her steward has gone mad and to engineer a duel in which Sir Andrew can kill Viola.

Things get even more complicated when Sebastian arrives on the scene, having tracked his sister to this house. He immediately finds Olivia asking to marry him and Sir Andrew trying to kill him, though he’s not sure why…

For over 35 years Castle Theatre Company has taken its annual summer Shakespeare tour around the south of England and the USA, performing classic comedies on the lawns of stately homes, gardens and abbeys across two continents. Renowned for its high-standard, the Summer Shakespeare promises an evening of excellent family entertainment.

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Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton

Beaulieu & The Bard

Montagu ancestor Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton, was Shakespeare's only acknowledged patron and some of his plays may have been performed for the first time in Beaulieu Abbey.

Find out more about Shakespeare's Beaulieu.


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