Exploring Cornwall: Penlee Park Open Air Theatre

When someone visits Cornwall and tells you that they went to an open air theatre, chances are they’re talking about the Minack. But did you know that there’s also a theatre in Penzance, tucked away where people can easily miss it? In fact, given the location, more intimate feel and lack of vertigo as part of the experience, I much prefer the little-known Penlee Park Theatre. And it just so happens that myself and The Bestie were treated to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream* just last week.

Penlee Park Theatre - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Penlee Park Theatre - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Penzance is my home. It’s where I was raised, schooled and came back to when I realised Winchester wasn’t for me. It’s where I met Luke and where we’re chosing to raise our son. And sometimes I rediscover a place and remember just how awesome this little town can be. If you’re looking for an afternoon of summer fun with your family or a change to your usual evening out with your partner or friends, look no further than this theatre in the park. This season alone, Penlee Park is playing host to live music, stand-up comedy, musicals and stage performances, including several productions of various Shakespeare masterpieces.

We went along to Ilyria’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – my favourite Shakespeare play. Come to think of it, I guess I seem to prefer his comedies, having grown rather fond of Twelfth Night too. And a night of laughs was definitely par for the course with this show – although, I have to admit, some of it was a bit too hammed up for my taste and bordered on cringey. Having said that, it was still an impressive production, with just five actors playing all of the roles, often nipping off stage to change costume. I was impressed with their ability to memorise so many parts and dip in and out of character so easily.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone loves the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, right? They were played so well here. Check out the little fairies below – bloody hilarious! And they even threw in a couple of little musical interludes. They look pretty cool with ukeleles! Bottom was great too and stayed just on the right side of slapstick.

Penlee Park Theatre - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Penlee Park Theatre - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Penlee Park Theatre - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Penlee Park Theatre - A Midsummer Night's Dream

As with most open air theatres, the show goes on whatever the weather, and, being Cornwall, it was a rather damp evening. Fortunately, it didn’t bucket down during the performance and we had curry and cider on hand to keep us toasty. You can pre-order your vegetable curry with your tickets for £4 or pay £5 on the night (available on arrival or during the interval). There’s also a range of snacks and hot and cold drinks – a pint of Polgoon cider will set you back £3.50.

Penlee Park Theatre - A Midsummer Night's Dream

me and john penlee park open air theatre

I really do recommend a trip to Penlee Park Theatre during the summer. There’s plenty still to see, including more Shakespeare, Kernow King, Sarah McQuaid, Peter Pan and a screening of Brown Willy. You can view the full line-up on their website.

*I was given two free tickets for review purposes. All thoughts are my own

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