Theatre: Everything's coming up roses

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Indy Lifestyle Online
June, as the song says, is bustin' out all over. Given half a chance, and prayed-for fair weather, the entire population will leap into

theatrical character. Will you go all Southern gothic, fanning yourself upon a verandah and sipping mint juleps in Tennessee Williams mode? Or will you while away balmy evenings wandering about your estate musing on the upkeep of the cherry orchard? Or perhaps you will rush through the french windows in whites crying "anyone for tennis?".

Unless you happen to be on the management of Glyndebourne - a picnic with an ace opera house attached - this is certainly a tough time to try and entice people into the theatre. All the air-conditioning in the world is no substitute for the opportunity to shed a few clothes in the sunlight and linger over a glass of Pimms or a cold beer. Happily, help is at hand for the dramatically-minded among you who cannot face an evening indoors.

This year, Regent's Park has a real bonus to offer. Londoners will be aware of its annual theatre festival, which kicks off this year with a revival of Rachel Kavanagh's warmly received production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and a new production of Troilus and Cressida. Still to come is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the musical famous for giving us "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend". But those of you who light up at the prospect of Gardener's Question Time or given the word "Jekyll" think "Gertrude" rather than "Hyde", will thrill to the prospect of Digging For Ladies.

I was once told of a little-known, but gloriously tasteless episode in the history of York University. A gaggle of less than academically-driven students devoted themselves to the all-consuming pursuit of larking about. This culminated in the formation of the Necrophilia Society, which found them marching about the town with placards emblazoned with the legend "Dig Up and Dig In".

Fortunately, Jyll Bradley's theatre event is on a rather more exalted plane, and has been performed in some of the country's grandest gardens, from the sumptuous Italianate setting of the National Trust's Tatton Park to Groombridge Place, whose lawns and topiary were made famous by the Peter Greenaway film, The Draughtsman's Contract.

We're promised a witty celebration of women and gardening, which sounds like a cue for a display of English eccentricity which may well be worth the trip down the garden path. Four lady gardeners pick up their hoes and shears to embark on what is described as "a hothouse hybrid of horticulture and hilarity", complete with a "well-composted topsoil of garden innuendo". Quite what Alan Titchmarsh would make of this, I should not care to hazard a guess.

'Digging for Ladies', St John's Lodge Gardens, Inner Circle, Regent's Park (0171-637 8270) 6.45pm 26-28 June and 2-4 July; The Royal Observatory Gardens, Greenwich Park (0181-858 6376) 7pm, 9-11 July

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