Among the alumni of Cambridge University are such theatrical luminaries as Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton, Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen. Continuing the thespian tradition but giving it a new, bespoke twist, three former students who make up the theatre troupe Go People have launched a new offering called Revels in Hand that eschews the fourth wall to perform plays in living rooms, around dinner tables, in private clubs, gardens and yachts.
“Inviting actors to one’s home or to a private gathering was very much the thing to do in Shakespearean times and it’s our ambition to revive this definitive form of entertainment,” says Lucy Eaton, who founded Revels in Hand with fellow actors Melanie Fullbrook and Freddie Hutchins. “Rather than being immersive, Revels in Hand is inclusive and intimate, bringing theatre closer to our audiences.”
No venue or event is too small. “We’ve staged private theatre events for audiences of fewer than 10 and greater than 100.” These include a performance at a 1920s-themed dinner party in Wimbledon and bringing A Midsummer’s Night Dream to a garden party at a Long Island lake house, while a recent booking will see them take to the sea, with a play specially created for an audience aboard a Mediterranean-moored yacht. Similar bespoke performances cost around £5,000, and hosts can choose from a selection of plays – from Shakespeare to modern classics by Noël Coward and John Van Druten.
Prospective clients can get a taste of the Revels in Hand experience this autumn, when the company brings its expertise to the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard. The Theatre in the Clouds series (tickets, £85; one-night hotel package for two guests with breakfast and spa use, £685) will pair views over the city skyline with intimate performances – an audience of just 20 – of Coward’s double bill Hands Across the Sea and Ways and Means (Tuesday October 9) or Bell, Book and Candle by Van Druten (Thursday November 8) or Van Druten’s Voice of the Turtle (Thursday December 6 and Thursday January 31). Champagne and canapés will be served during the interval and guests can rest assured that audience participation is not required.