The glory of Shakespeare’s romance inside Eastbourne’s Italian Gardens

As You Like It from EODS
As You Like It from EODS

Evil brothers, wise shepherds, besotted lovers and wily clowns all come together in Eastbourne Operatic and Dramatic Society’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s delightful comedy As You Like It.

Impetuous Duke Frederick has already banished his elder brother when he turns his wrath on the unsuspecting Rosalind who flees with close friend and daughter of the Duke, Celia. Meanwhile the evil Oliver has never liked his youngest brother, the virtuous Orlando, and forces him into exile too.

Rosalind and Orlando, having fallen in love at first sight, have no option but to continue their courtship in the Forest of Arden, but - nothing ever being straightforward with Shakespeare - Rosalind is determined to set the ground rules.

She conceals herself as a man (Ganymede) in order to teach Orlando how to woo his lover Rosalind.

Stephen Lowin and Mike Barber who vastly entertained audiences last year in Twelfth Night with the drunken antics of knights, Toby Belch and Andrew Aquecheek, are reunited again with Stephen playing the melancholic Jaques and Mike, the funny and observant Touchstone.

It’s been a busy year for both performers with Stephen taking the lead role of Renee in ‘Allo ‘Allo and Mike, not only playing the dame in panto but also performing a number of singing engagements - including at celebrations for the Queen’s birthday and St George’s Day.

The talented duo is delighted to be back at the beautiful Italian Gardens for what promises to be another year of unforgettable outdoor theatre from EODS Productions.

The beautiful trees which surround the Italian Gardens and the sea in the background provide the perfect backdrop for this open air production. Arrive early and bring a picnic or sample a fine array of home-made cakes, alongside tea, coffee, wine and beer.

In this wooded amphitheatre, EODS will give a memorable evening of drama, music and laughter. The gardens can be accessed either by a path leading down from The Crow’s Nest on the Seafront, which involves steps, or by the limited access road by the lower side of Helen Gardens.

Director Neil Stocker said: “I have been waiting for the opportunity to direct As You Like It for a long time, as I love its strong female lead, comic potential and setting in the romantic Forest of Arden. Although not frequently performed, it is well due a revival and reconsidering it, in this the four hundredth celebration year of Shakespeare’s life, the play gives us time to consider how and why we fall in love, think deeply about our own existence while keeping its tongue firmly in its cheek.”

Performances are nightly at 7.30 pm July 27 to August 6 (No performance Sunday July 31).

All audience seating is undercover. Tickets priced between £13 and £18 are now available online www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk or by visiting or calling The Congress Theatre box office 01323 412000.