5 Most Memorable Theatres
✨ LUCY EATON
At Revels in Hand, we provide an entirely bespoke theatre service which crafts unique productions for intimate spaces: drawing rooms, hotel suites, and yacht decks to name but a few. In 2020, the list of spectacular venues that we transform into theatres is going to get even wilder, but for now here are the top 5 most memorable spaces we've performed in.
1. GARRICK CLUB: In the shadow of a legend.
We've performed at a number of private members' clubs in our time: The Club at the Ivy, Home House, House of St Barnabas, Hospital Club... (if you're a member at any - look out for us in your member events programs) But one club performance was particularly memorable.
It was spring of 2015 and Revels in Hand had a production of John Vanbrugh's The Provoked Wife in our repertoire. It's a fabulous restoration comedy, recently done by the RSC in fact, and we had a fabulously stylish production directed by Oliver Kaderbhai that we were touring around a number of private and public spaces. At the time, literally hanging in the dining room of the Garrick Club was a celebrated painting by Johan Zoffany of David Garrick himself playing the infamous Sir John Brute, the central husband of the titular provoked wife. It's the painting you will see on the front of every John Vanbrugh collection; an unforgettable moment from the play in which Sir John Brute disguises himself in one of his wife's dresses and beats off police officers. We performed for one night only, and when we reached the exact moment in the play that was depicted in the piece of art hanging above us, we froze - en masse - looked up for a moment and then... on with the show! The audience loved it and it was certainly a special moment for us.
2. SOUTH LONDON LIVING ROOM: Miniature audience.
For our re-launch last summer, The Telegraph wanted an exclusive experience apart from the launch event itself, so we offered journalist Nick Curtis the service. Simple. We would come to his home to provide him and a small invited audience with some in-home entertainment. What ensued was a thrilling performance for our smallest audience ever. As you can read about in his article here, Nick invited 3 friends for a summer lunch and we brought Noël Coward's sizzling comedy Ways and Means to his small South London living room.
It's always nice to find that what you've been boasting all along really is true: we proved that a Revels in Hand experience can fit absolutely anywhere and that when you book us for your event, there's no such thing as a bad seat!
3. LAKE-SIDE HAMPTONS: Fairies under the fairy lights.
A London-based client wanted a little summer entertainment for a big birthday while out holidaying in the Hamptons, so they reached out to us to do something special. The decision was made to provide an abridged version of Shakespeare's much-loved comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream; something that would fit beautifully at the end of the garden in their lakeside holiday home. Only problem was... guests would be arriving at 7pm but by 8pm the sun would have set.
So we got to work with some festoon lights and the next thing you know, we'd inadvertently created the best setting for A Midsummer Night's Dream that's ever been seen! As the sun set behind us and the glow of the fairy lights got stronger and stronger, the piece took on a marvellously rare, magical quality. A swing hung on one of the branches behind the actors and in the middle of the second half, our clients' young daughters came running onstage to play, unaware of the action going on around them. They immediately became our Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed; real fairies inhabiting our pretend fairy-kingdom.
4. TEMPLE CHURCH: Bringing Scrooge to life.
A Christmas charity carol concert needed a little extra performance to jazz up the evening. Enter Revels in Hand, stage left (or rather "pew left"). Over the course of the evening, we told snippets of Charles Dickens' festive staple A Christmas Carol.
Kids and adults alike couldn't resist the fabulous story and, although large audiences are not our traditional thing, it was a joy to perform for charity at such a buzzing, large-scale event. Not to mention the fact that we had the incredible Patrick Walshe McBride in the cast. Having acted with us on a number of shows (Almost, Maine and The Bungler) he states this as his favourite experience with Revels in Hand.
"It was brilliant" he says, "It had the Revels in Hand hallmarks of an unusual space, inventive adaptation and staging (using the pulpit for the counting house), and audience participation (the choirboys acquitted themselves brilliantly) but most of all it was perhaps the Christmassiest thing I have participated in."
Read more of Patrick's thoughts on performing with Revels in Hand here.
5. SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, THE SHARD: Join us in the bedroom.
It wouldn't be a list of cracking venues we've performed in without mentioning the Shangri-La Hotel. Now a much-loved partner in crime for our Theatre in the Clouds series, the first time we performed there was a treat like no other. For our re-launch last year we made use of not only the £10k/night signature suite's living room but the boudoir as well, enabling us the sweet sweet joy of asking an audience to join us in the bedroom halfway through the evening! Not to mention the fact that the bed in that particular suite is so vast it doesn't even have a name. Not a king, not a super king, but some fantastically and grotesquely enormous piece of furniture that takes up half of the palatial room. Freddie Hutchins and I got to climb under the covers and get really cosy in a bed that we would never be able to afford to sleep in under normal circumstances!
As the sun went down over the city, behind our audience's heads, we had to work really hard to concentrate on the job in hand and not just start gazing into the sunset, mesmerised by the beauty of it all. Nowadays, we walk in to set up for a night of Theatre in the Clouds and barely look out the windows; too much to do, things to rehearse and focus on. But that first performance was a rare feeling.
It is our great privilege to call the 39th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard our theatre.
If you would like to hire us for your own event, get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org and if you'd like to catch us at the Shangri-La Hotel, keep an eye here and here. More dates through 2020 coming soon!