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Kent: Changeling Theatre open air summer tour will kick off in Maidstone

Sinners, saviours, spirits... and dubstep come to the great outdoors for a county-wide annual outdoor theatre tour. The Changeling Theatre's 2018 thespian expedition has some surprises

The audience settling down to watch the Changeling Theatre this summer should be pleased with the choice of plays - they chose them.

After a poll among audience members during their 20th anniversary tour of Hamlet, the company will stage two plays: William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.

Changeling Theatre's summer 2018 tour: Measure for Measure
Changeling Theatre's summer 2018 tour: Measure for Measure

This year the Maidstone-based company's summer tour will be their 21st and takes them to venues from castles and parks to beaches and stately homes across the county and beyond each year throughout the summer.

Their version of Shakespeare's bawdy comedy Measure for Measure, which has a storyline packed with twists and turns, is inspired by the Moulin Rouge and burlesque.

Vienna is rife with brothels, loose morality and ludicrous characters. The weak Duke goes undercover, leaving his strict deputy Angelo in charge to clean the city up. But when Angelo sentences young Claudio to death for sleeping with his wife-to-be, Claudio’s nun sister Isobel, pleads for his life. Angelo agrees to spare him, but the stakes are high....

Coward's enduring comedy Blithe Spirit is the second time the company has taken a Wilde play on its outdoor tour.

Celebrated novelist Charles Condomine has invited a local medium and eccentric, Madame Arcati, to hold a séance at his house, as research for his new book. Arcati calls up the ghost of Charles’ first wife – the alluring Elvira - who delights in taunting her husband and mocking his new marriage to Ruth.

Creative director Rob Forknall said: “Every year we ask our audience to vote for their choice of plays the following year.

Changeling Theatre's summer 2018 tour: Blithe Spirit
Changeling Theatre's summer 2018 tour: Blithe Spirit

"We have a real connection with our audiences, and the vote is an important part of what we do. We have wanted to stage Measure for Measure for a long time, and we can't tell you how excited we are to be touring it in 2018. It’s a very funny

Shakespeare, full of twists and turns. Noel Coward is also a Changeling favourite and a writer very close to my heart. Blithe Spirit is full of spooky farce and nonsense. It’s so much fun and will work really well in the open air."

This year's Changeling "rookie" – an actor picked straight from drama school – is Jake Setters, who is helping bring a new genre to the show.

Jakes is in two-piece hip hop band Cabrakid who have released more than 60 tracks and featured on BBC Radio 1Xtra. He will play characters in Measure for Measure and Blithe Spirit but is also working with composer Alex Scott and the cast to incorporate rap and dubstep.

He said: “Language is inherently rhythmical and in rap the rhythm dictates how you get your message across. You can change the meaning or make people listen to something new within the lines if you just slightly change the rhythm. Shakespeare does exactly the same; he works with iambic pentameter - as does Eminem – and whilst it’s tempting to do the “actor thing” and put a pause in here and there – it wrecks the meaning of the thought, so you have to drive through.”

Alex added: “I’ve used elements of dubstep and orchestral music to represent the opposing worlds of the court and the city within Measure for Measure. Combining electronic music, rapping and live instrumentation is an exciting way to breathe life into the play."

Blithe Spirit
Blithe Spirit


Changeling Theatre’s Measure for Measure will be playing alongside Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit across Kent from Friday, June 29 to Sunday, August 19, in venues from Margate seafront to Biddenden Vineyards, and Allington Castle, The Friars Aylesford and Boughton Monchelsea Place, where it launches and ends.

To book tickets visit changeling-theatre.com/tickets

Look out for the Changeling troupe on tour this summer across Kent
Look out for the Changeling troupe on tour this summer across Kent
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