Welcome to the Oxford Shakespeare Company, acclaimed specialists in open-air and site specific theatre and a must-see favourite during the Oxford summer.

In the Summer of 2015 the Gardens of Wadham College are taken over for…

Twelfth Night!

Bad teeth, mad hair, outrageous costumes! And that's just Orsino, who is still trying his damnedest to get with Olivia who refuses to leave her caravan. Feste is a nomad who won't settle down or wash and forever leaving the mother of his children in the lurch, so when Viola and Sebastian pitch up on the shores of the island of Illyria they have learn to adapt fast if they are going to find each other again.

Directed by Nicholas Green. Original music by Nicholas Lloyd Webber.

This year we were also delighted to be performing at Art in Action at Waterperry Gardens and the Wilderness Festival at Cornbury Park.

The OSC are celebrated for their open air, site specific performances both at their summer residency at Wadham College Oxford and across the Historic Royal Palaces sites of Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Tower of London and the Banqueting House Whitehall.

Our shows are designed to be interactive with the environment in which they are performed, allowing the audience to enter fully into the world of the play. They are renowned for their talented actors, sensational costumes and for the quality of the live music which is individually devised for each production. 

If you require any further information about our productions or how we can assist with educational workshops and corporate entertainments please don’t hesitate to drop us an email or give us a ring.

We can be contacted on 0844 879 4418 or 07581 751 198.

5 Star review from The Oxford Times

"A wonderful way to pass a sunny evening, this is a must-see show for the summer."

The Oxford Times (2014)

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Ticket Prices

Evening Performances                                 Adults £23.00, Concessions* £18.00

Matinee Performances                                Adults £18.00, Concessions* £13.00

Under 5s                                                        FREE

Disabled customers may bring 1 carer free. Bookers requiring a free companion ticket please call us on 07581 751 198.

*Concessions: Full Time Students, Under 18s, Over 65s & Registered Disabled. ID will be required.


See it first                             All preview tickets are just £13.00 (29th & 30th June & 1st July)

Family ticket                       10% off when you buy 4 tickets (must include at least one Under 18 ticket)

Groups of 10+                      Please contact Emma on 07581 751 198

Schools                                  By arrangement.

Please contact us on +44 (0)7581 751 198


Seating is unreserved tiered with back rests. Rugs available for hire. We are open from one hour before the performance. Babies admitted. Shows cancelled as a result of bad weather we will endeavour to exchange tickets for an alternative date subject to availability for the 2015 season.


Performances in the Gardens at Wadham College, Oxford Summer 2015

Mon 29th7.30 pm. Preview
Tues 30th7.30 pm. Preview
Wed 1st7.30 pm. Preview
Thrs 2nd7.30 pm
Fri 3rd7.30 pm
Sat 4th7.30 pm
Mon 6th7.30 pm
Tues 7th7.30 pm
Wed 8th7.30 pm
Thrs 9th7.30 pm
Fri 10th7.30 pm
Sat 11th2.30 pm
Sat 11th7.30 pm
Mon 13th7.30 pm
Tues 14th7.30 pm
Wed 15th7.30 pm
Thrs 16th7.30 pm
Fri 17th7.30 pm
Sat 18th7.30 pm
Mon 20th7.30 pm
Tues 21st7.30 pm
Wed 22nd7.30 pm
Thrs 23rd7.30 pm
Fri 24th7.30 pm
Sat 25th2.30 pm
Sat 25th7.30 pm
Mon 27th7.30 pm
Tues 28th7.30 pm
Wed 29th7.30 pm
Thrs 30th7.30 pm
Fri 31st7.30 pm
Sat 1st2.30 pm
Sat 1st7.30 pm
Mon 3rd7.30 pm
Tues 4th7.30 pm
Wed 5th7.30 pm
Thrs 6th7.30 pm
Fri 7th7.30 pm: TBC
Sat 8th2.30 pm: TBC
Sat 8th7.30 pm: TBC
Mon 10th7.30 pm: TBC
Tues 11th7.30 pm
Wed 12th7.30 pm
Thrs 13th7.30 pm
Fri 14th7.30 pm
Sat 15th2.30 pm
Sat 15th7.30 pm

About The Show

Gypsies take over Oxford for Twelfth Night! Bad teeth, mad hair, outrageous costumes! And that's just Orsino, who is still trying his damnedest to get with Olivia who refuses to leave her caravan. Feste is a traveller who won't settle down or wash and forever leaving the mother of his children in the lurch, so when Viola and Sebastian pitch up on the shores of the gypsy island of Illyria they have learn to adapt fast if they are going to find each other again.

Our setting for Twelfth Night is a gypsy encampment, which is both modern and trapped in the past. The encampment in Illyria has had relatively little contact with the outside world, has had less and less need to move around and has established itself on a more permanent basis.

The music, written and arranged by Nick Lloyd Webber, will be performed by the ensemble cast; musically extravagant traditional acoustic expressions delivered with a spirit of abandonment and mischief, but lyrically it remains all Shakespeare.

Director          Nicholas Green

Composer      Nicholas Lloyd Webber

Designer        Adrian Lillie

Show Photos

© Ben Galpin - Malvolio Media 2014

Show Reviews

Reviews for As You Like It Summer 2014

The Oxford Times

One of the boons of Oxford in summer is the plethora of outside entertainment, and Oxford Shakespeare Company’s current production of As You Like It in Wadham College Gardens is a first-class example.

This is the 12th year of OSC’s residence in these sublime surroundings and it shows in how imaginatively they use the space. For the initial courtly scenes the audience are instructed to place their picnic blankets facing the chapel end of the garden, where two ancient trees create a natural proscenium.

When the story moves to the Forest of Arden you are ushered to another area — where the banished Duke Fredrick and his followers have made their pastoral court. This promenading is great fun and makes you feel as if you are one of the Rosalind’s companions following her into idyllic exile.

Inspired touches such as this from director Michael Oakley create a magical production, which is enhanced by outstanding costumes from Adrian Lillie and virtuosic choreography by movement director Mark Smith.

A delightfully varied score by Nicholas Lloyd Webber allows the cast to bring alive the play’s songs with adept playing of various instruments and harmonious voices. They are equally melodious delivering the spoken lines, which isn’t easy playing outside (companies that don’t understand voice projection tend to just shout at the audience!). But OSC know their stuff and produce the words ‘trippingly on the tongue’.

Rebecca Tanwen, an enchanting Rosalind, is perfectly complemented by Charlotte Hamblin’s Celia. They are born comediennes and make a perfect double-act. This is not to imply the others lacked hilarity — Rob Whitcomb’s Touchstone is hilarious, and the pastoral shenanigans of Rosalind Steele, David Shelley and George Haynes as Phoebe, Corin and Audrey are broad comedy at its best.

But this As You Like It is no mere pantomime. Giving the play its essential chiaroscuro, Alexander McWilliam is a particularly lyrical Jacques, while David Shelley captures both the menace of the evil courtly Duke and joyfulness of the rightful ruler — his banished brother.

A wonderful way to pass a sunny evening, this is a must -see show for the summer.

By Angie Johnson 10:04am Thursday 17th July 2014 in Theatre Reviews.

Daily Info

It occurred to me this evening that open-air plays are as synonymous with Oxford summers as punting on the Cherwell. The Oxford Shakespeare Company (OSC) has staged the Bard’s (and others') plays in Wadham College Gardens since 2002. The beautiful grounds make a wonderful setting for this year’s offering, the ever-popular comedy, As You Like It. This is a promenade production which involves the audience sitting on the grass (or if you are early, on one of the wooden benches) for the first 15 minutes, with the college buildings making an excellent backdrop for Duke Frederick’s court, and moving to seats in an emerald glade for the rest of the play. 

Accompanied by live music (composed by Nicholas Lloyd Webber), the company ensemble, mostly in monochrome formal wear, treats us to a highly-stylised dance / mime entrance routine. I assume the clockwork-type movement of the characters is designed to imbue a sense of regimentation within the court of the dictator-duke who had banished his brother Ferdinand and usurped power. The scene establishes the closeness of cousins Celia and Rosalind, Frederick’s and Ferdinand’s respective daughters. In tightly-tailored, voluminous silver and black dresses, the women, one dark-haired and one blonde, make a beautifully contrasting pair. They each appear smitten by Orlando (David Alwyn), who wins a wrestling match with Charles (the first of a few episodes where audience participation through clapping or cheering is encouraged) and the heart of Rosalind.

To shortcut the plot, many characters end up in the Forest of Arden including: the exiled Duke Ferdinand; banished Rosalind, disguised as a boy, Ganymede, accompanied by Celia disguised as Aliena, a shepherdess; Touchstone, the court jester; and Orlando fleeing from his threatening brother, Oliver. On moving to the Forest of Arden, we are also introduced to a motley crew in latter-day hippy attire. While Rebecca Tanwen is impressive as Rosalind from the outset with her poise and clear line delivery, she is particularly winsome as Ganymede, firstly appearing in riding clothes, and with just the right amount of swagger. She is well supported by Charlotte Hamlin as the loyal Celia and the well-spoken David Alwyn is charming as the love-lorn Orlando. 

Oliver’s line, ‘Twas I but ‘tis not I’, could apply to the versatility of the cast; several play instruments and all sing! With only eight players, this company creates a diverse range of well-developed individual characters. The two dukes are nicely played by David Shelley; Rosalind Steele turns in a virtuoso performance as a commanding Madame La Belle, the bucolic Phoebe, and a simpering, reverential accordion-playing Mistress Olivia Martext; Alexander McWilliams convincingly portrays Oliver, the melancholic Jacques and bruiser Charles; George Haynes grabs show-stealing moments as the gormless, downbeat shepherd Silvius as well as a highly-entertaining animated turn as feisty, dimwit Audrey; Rob Witcomb relishes his role as Adam and Touchstone (the latter’s scenes with Audrey and Olivia Martext are particularly entertaining).

There can be a tendency to go OTT with slapstick and gimmicks with Shakespeare nowadays but I believe this production of As You Like It achieves a nice balance of delivering a coherent yet entertaining piece of theatre. Whether playing the rustic or the royal, the actors articulate clearly. As expected, with a Shakespeare comedy, there is reconciliation as brothers quash grievances and characters pair off at the end. The traditional wedding scene is enhanced with pretty dresses for Celia and Rosalind. Yet, the epilogue leaves enough wriggle room to decide for ourselves what we really make of the play’s power and gender games. Additional bonuses in Michael Oakley’s well-directed production include Adrian Lillie’s costume design (‘Good Vibes’!) and the informative programme which includes some quotes and Jacques’ famous ‘All the world’s a stage’ speech. If you have never been to an outdoor Shakespeare in Oxford, I recommend you start with this one. 

Colette Lardner-Browne (DI Reviewer), 11/07/14

Reviews for The Merry Wives of Windsor Summer 2013

Daily Info

Oxford Shakespeare Company is triumphantly back in beautiful Wadham gardens with The Merry Wives of Windsor, a tale of formidable women and thwarted fornication reimagined as a sundown prank-fest at a proper English Fête, complete with tea, tombola, and the ukulele orchestra of Windsor and Eton. Slightly bewildered by the beautiful weather, the village worthies set out to teach fat, bankerish, pinstripe-clad Falstaff a lesson in rural virtues, while keeping a tight eye on the cakes and prize-winning marrows.

Katharine Bennett-Fox plays a beautiful, brittle Mistress Ford, a perfect balance of lipstick and British repression, while her husband (David Kechnie) is the picture of a Britflick jealous man with his red trousers, facial gymnastics and frantic squirming. Meanwhile the Pages, a blissfully bumpkinesque Rob Witcomb and a fabulously over-the-top Sarah Goddard stamp on in Barbour, tweed and wellies, determined to sensibly marry off their beautiful daughter Anne (an utterly charming Rachel Waring) who is in the terrible state of being the only girl in the village. Local posh boy Fenton has his own plans for Anne, and the smugly satisfied rural idyll is soon raucous with dirty jokes and inappropriate wooing.

The small cast makes for excellent doubling up, especially from Heather Johnson, one moment waving her curlers and Hello magazine as Mistress Quickly, the next flubbing signs and mangling rhymes as Pistol the hilariously incomprehensible hoodie. Falstaff himself (Jack Taylor) plays to his weight and charm, fearlessly stumbling from suit to towel to hide and horns, as the sun goes down, the fairy lights go on, and the action takes a Wicker Man-ish turn. This marvellous mash up of rom-coms, bunting and bad ideas never fails to charm and surprise. Look out for a surprisingly moving turn from a Punch and Judy panda, pressed into service as a go-between.

Jeremy Dennis, 9th July 2013

Oxford Times

Hooray for this glorious weather, not least because it provides a welcome respite to the Oxford Shakespeare Company after several years of being thoroughly rained on during their productions.

On a sunlit evening in the gardens of Wadham College, I happily watched their latest show, The Merry Wives of Windsor, yet I would have kept warm whatever the weather because I was laughing so much throughout the show — this is a very funny production. It is not one of the more frequently staged of Shakespeare’s plays, so I was pleased to have an opportunity to see it again, and am delighted to report that it’s the most enjoyable version I’ve ever attended. This is partly due to the lively pace throughout and because they have seasoned the show with some clever contemporary references and great musical interludes from the cast — supplied by musical directors James D Reid and Nick Lloyd Webber.

Maybe this is not one for the textural purists, but audiences who enjoy theatricality will have a great time. The plot follows the misadventures of Sir John Falstaff who, amongst several other suitors, wants to wed beautiful heiress Anne. Low on funds he decides to seduce two affluent local women, Mistresses Ford and Page and steal money from them. This is all doomed to failure as the two friends show his identical love-letters to each other, and proceed to plan an elaborate revenge. Intertwined with this central plot are several other intrigues involving the suitors, jealous husbands and various comic characters, providing lots of laughs along the way.

The main reason why this Merry Wives is so outstandingly funny is because of the wit and energy of the whole cast, in particular Heather Johnson as quirky Mistress Quickly, wickedly sharp Mistresses Ford and Page by Katherine Bennett-Fox and Sarah Goddard, and a quite bonkers Mr Ford from David McKechnie. But the highlight for me was the brilliant performance of Falstaff by Jack Taylor — I’ve never seen this role done better. Even though Falstaff is a bounder, by the end of all his trials and humiliations you just love him to bits.

Director Gemma Fairlie has brought together a very successful production full of charm and humour. Setting the action at a typical English garden fete, which then seamlessly turns into a spooky wood, was genius. It’s simply a perfect evening out for all ages.

Angie Johnson, 18th July 2013

Newbury Theatre Review

Shakespeare is rumoured to have knocked up The Merry Wives of Windsor quickly, to please Queen Elizabeth who wanted more about Falstaff. It’s not performed as often as his most popular plays, but the Oxford Shakespeare Company’s version of it is a real belter – the nearest Shakespeare came to farce, and the sort of thing that the Carry On team might have come up with after watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The plot is quite complicated (and I recommend you buy the programme, which has a three-page synopsis of it), but the main gist of it is Falstaff getting his come-uppance. The production has 17 characters, played by 8 actors (although one of the characters is a Punch and Judy puppet – yes, weird is a suitable word to describe it).

The setting is an English village garden fête with a bar, cake stall, chutney stall, Punch and Judy, you get the idea. And it’s set in the beautiful grounds of Wadham College, on a lawn backed by trees.

Falstaff is played to perfection by Jack Taylor, swaggering, boastful and… large (we get to see more of him than we might want as the play progresses). His gang consists of Pistol and Nym (Katherine Bennett-Fox and Sarah Goddard with gangsta accents, Pistol’s too strong to be understood at times) and Robin (Rachel Waring). These three double up as the ladies of Windsor: Mistresses Ford and Page and Mistress Page’s daughter Anne. A lot of the intrigue is worked by Mistresses Ford and Page, with strong performances from the two of them.

The outsiders are the Welsh Parson (David McKechnie and, occasionally, Heather Johnson – I didn’t say this was going to be easy) and the French physician (Rob Witcomb) – think Python/Grail “I fart in your general direction”. In fact the whole production owes a lot to Monty Python and Basil Fawlty at his most manic. David McKechnie also takes on Master Ford and Master Brook (as an American cowboy with a Mexican moustache); the scene with Brook and Falstaff is delightful.

Heather Johnson is a feisty Mistress Quickly and David Alwyn’s combination of face, voice and body language make an impressive trio of Shallow, Slender (the puppet) and posh Fenton (there’s a reference to last year’s viral You-Tube clip of the dog chasing the deer that got a big laugh).

Add to this: mobile phone conversations, a variety of songs and a slow-mo fight accompanied by the Chariots of Fire theme on guitar, violin and kazoo, and it’s clear that Gemma Fairlie’s production is something special.

If it sounds crazy and chaotic, it is. But it’s a delight; great fun, and a wonderful way to spend a summer evening.

Paul Shave

About Us

The Oxford Shakespeare Company (OSC) has been resident for a summer season in Wadham College Gardens since 2002, taking over from the ten-year tenure of bold & saucy, meaning there has been professional summer theatre at the college for over two decades. We have presented twenty productions and achieved critical and audience acclaim.

Thereafter the company performed regularly at Hampton Court Palace (including being invited to perform the 400th Anniversary production of Macbeth in the Great Hall in 2006), Kensington Gardens (the first commercial theatre company invited to do so) and more recently The Tower of London; bespoke commissions.

The Gardens at Wadham are a wonderful setting for Shakespeare and other classic texts, and provide an added appeal to audiences, both local and visiting. The quality and reputation of the OSC has allowed us to work with pre-eminent directors since its foundation including: Mick Gordon, Guy Retallack, Chris Pickles and Bill Bankes Jones, the acclaimed Opera director and now, for the second year, Gemma Fairlie. We have a reputation for excellence in our field, receiving Time Out Critics Choice and 4*& 5* recommendations from national and local press on many occasions.

OSC Productions:


A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cornbury Park & Wadham College.
Director: Gemma Fairlie. Music: Nick Lloyd Webber and James D.Reid. Costume: Adrian Lillie

Colonel Blood & The Raven. The Tower of London
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie.


The Comedy of Errors (Revival). Wadham College & Ken Hill House Norfolk.
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie 

The Importance of Being Earnest. Wadham College.
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie.


The Tempest.  The Walks Gray’s Inn, Royal Observatory Greenwich, Cornbury Park, Wadham College, Hampton Court Palace & Ken Hill House Norfolk.
Director: Mick Gordon. Music: Nick Lloyd Webber. Costume: Dora Schweitzer & Adrian Lillie
“A cut-above most summer Shakespeare experiences, this has it’s own rough magic. A real little charmer”. Lyn Gardner The Guardian 2010 for The Tempest

Private Lives. Wadham College
Director: Nicholas Green. Music James D. Reid. Costume: Adrian Lillie.
"The idea of presenting a Noël Coward comedy in the open sounds ridiculous but turns out to work tremendously well…A perfect evening” Jeremy Kingston The Times ****2010


Romeo & Juliet. The Walks Gray’s Inn, Cornbury Park & Wadham College.
Director: Guy Retallack. Music: Paul Kissaun. Design: Dora Schweitzer & Adrian Lillie.

Cyrano de Bergerac. Wadham College
Director: Sarah Davey Music Lisa Westerhout Costume: Adrian Lillie
“hugely enjoyable evening…it is impossible not to be drawn into this extraordinary performance.”
Oxford Daily Info for Cyrano de Bergerac

The Comedy of Errors. North Garden Lincoln’s Inn & Wadham College
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie
“An exuberant outdoor production (with) faultless performances... hugely warm and engaging, a toe-tapping, heart-warming hoot”**** The Guardian for The Comedy of Errors


Twelfth Night. Cornbury Park, Wadham College, Kensington Palace & Hampton Court Palace.
Director: Bill Bankes-Jones. Music: Nick Lloyd Webber. Costume: Adrian Lillie.
“An unflagging comic delight” Time Out Critics Choice 2008 for Twelfth Night

Telling Tales at the Tower. Medieval Palace at The Tower of London
Adapted & Directed: Nick Green.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cornbury Park, Wadham College, Kensington Palace & Hampton Court Palace.
Director: Jilly Bond. Music: Nick Lloyd Webber. Costume: Adrian Lillie.


The Taming of the Shrew. Cornbury Park, Waterperry Gardens, Wadham College & Hampton Court Palace
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie.

The Importance of Being Earnest. Wadham College & Hampton Court Palace.
Director: Chris Pickles Music: Paul Knight Costume: Adrian Lillie.

400th Anniversary Macbeth. The Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace & North Garden Lincoln’s Inn
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie.


The Merry Wives of Windsor. Cornbury Park, Wadham College, Royal Botantic Gardens Kew, Barnsley House & The King’s Head Aylesbury.
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie.

Macbeth. Wadham College & Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie.


Love’s Labour Lost. Wadham College
Director: Kevin Hosier. Music: Lisa Westerhout. Costume: Adrian Lillie
“Make time to go and see this production. After all, what better way to spend a summer evening than laughing in the company of talented actors and an appreciative audience?”
Oxford Daily Info for Love’s Labour’s Lost


As You Like It. Wadham College, North Garden Lincoln’s Inn & The Walled Garden Basingstoke.
Director: Kevin Hosier. Music: Lisa Westerhout Costume: Adrian Lillie

The Two Gentleman of Verona. Wadham College
Director Tristan Brolly Music: Lisa Westerhout Costume: Adrian Lillie

The Winter’s Tale. North Garden Lincoln’s Inn & Wadham College
Director: Chris Pickles. Music: Paul Knight. Costume: Adrian Lillie
"The cast could not be a higher pedigree…the audience adored it. An ideal way to chill this summer."  What’s On **** for The Winter’s Tale


Much Ado About Nothing. Wadham College, Hartwell House Alysbury & The Walled Garden Basingstoke.
Director: Sarah Davey. Music: Lisa Westerhout. Costume: Adrian Lillie

Dr Faustus. Wadham College.
Director: Kevin Hosier. Music: Lisa Westerhout. Costume: Adrian Lillie
“This is a production to savour and with its emphasis on action and visual effect should be attracting visitors and locals in their droves” Oxford Times for Dr Faustus

General Information and Wadham Map

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Wadham College
Parks Road

For more information visit the Finding Wadham page on the college's website.