Tuesday 25 June 2019

Three Inch Fools present Macbeth: Ordsall Hall Summer Outdoor Theatre Review (We were guests).

Ordsall Hall's Summer Outdoor Theatre programme launched last Friday night with Macbeth and we were invited along to review. Last year when we went for the outdoor theatre it was 30 degrees at 9pm and we were melting - it wasn't quite the same this year, and I was reliably informed it would move inside if there was rain, but in the end we did very well with a dry, sunny evening.

Three Inch Fools present Macbeth: Ordsall Hall Summer Outdoor Theatre Review  view of stage

Ordsall Hall is a beautiful Tudor building set into gorgeous grounds, and it really is an oasis of calm in amongst all of the modern buildings, homes and businesses. The current Great Hall was built in 1512, so it would have been sparkly new when Shakespeare was alive. The perfect location for Macbeth.

Ordsall Hall Salford Kitchen Garden area and back wall of manor house

Gates opened at 6pm, which allowed us plenty of time to familiarise ourselves, find a suitable spot and get comfy. You are free to bring your own chairs, and if it's wet you really will want to, as sitting on the grass or a picnic blanket will be cold and/or damp unless the weather is glorious, especially at night.

The gardens are gorgeous - the Gardener does an amazing job and I'm sure she is rightly proud.

Ordsall Hall Museum in Salford picnic area with benches

There is an on-site bar, snacks and drinks counter inside and this is also where you collect pre-ordered picnics. Ordsall Hall Picnic Bags are great. They are carefully chosen, filling and delicious.

Ordsall Hall outdoor theatre picnic bag opened out onto wooden table

 A Fentimanns soft drink, sandwiches, home made cake, piece of fruit and Ten Acre crisps, and you can even upgrade to a glass of Prosecco for an extra £1. I didn't manage to get nice photos of the food last year because the weather was sooooo hot, we didn't have that issue this year, but I took no chances and snapped the picnics before I took them out.

Ordsall Hall outdoor theatre picnic example

£8.95 – Adult Picnic Bag
£4.95 – Children’s Picnic Bag
£5.95 – Drinks and Nibbles Packages (Beer/Wine and your choice of savoury snack)

Boy looking at Tudor Manor House windows and woodwork

Our performers were The Three Inch Fools, who are excellent musicians and incorporate singing and music throughout. The 5 actors are on a massive UK tour with 6 shows a week, and they were a very tight and cohesive unit.

the three inch fools performing at ordsall hall ready to go on stage

We took our 10 year old with us for his first Shakespeare play and he isn't familiar with Macbeth. It took him around half an hour before he was immersed into the language and the story enough to really get what was happening, and he loved it.

Macbeth was played by all 5 actors in turn, which also added a little to my son's confusion, but it actually made good sense, because it worked really well to show the different stages Macbeth goes through as the story progresses. The loving husband and father, the fighter, the guilt-ridden.

After an hour we had an interval. Just like any theatre you can pre-book drinks. We hadn't, but there was no queue, so I bought 3 filter coffees and a very posh hot chocolate for under £8, and was delighted with that. It's always lovely to find nice warm drinks that don't cost an arm and a leg.

My 10 year old son drinking Ordsall Hall posh hot chocolate and grinning

Outdoor theatre is always less formal and therefore Macbeth at Ordsall Hall was far more as it would have been nearly 600 years ago. Our crowd weren't nearly bawdy enough, but performers coming into the audience and stealing food and drink is a tradition that the Three Inch Fools continued, and I'm pretty sure they'd have liked to see the audience dancing during the second half. My 10 year old was singing along and well into it.

He even got asked to play the part of Birnam Woods...

Ordsall Hall Shakespeare my son playing Birnam Woods by holding a twig and shaking it

The rain stayed away and we had a truly excellent evening. My Scottish partner knows Macbeth off by heart and my son is a complete newcomer to Shakespeare, and we all had a great time.

My advice would be to pick your spot carefully, as the setting sun did blind us somewhat during the first half, and once the sun sets it turns cold very quickly in the shade. Take cheap chairs that won't obscure everyone's view, and a blanket for your legs for later on, but there is so much space you'll always be able to get a clear view of the stage. Definitely take a brolly - this is Manchester Salford! Enjoy the show...

Ordsall Hall Salford wooden swan and cygnets in the ancient moat

Find out more all about the Hall and gardens, as well as the special events planned for this Summer, on the brand new Ordsall Hall website. The listings for the Outdoor Theatre programme are below, but there's plenty more on offer for all ages! 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Sunday 21 July 2019, 2.00 – 3.30pm
£10 Adult| £8 Child | Under 5’s FREE | £32 Family Ticket, booking required

Gangsta Granny
Wednesday 31 July & Tuesday 27 August 2019, 1.00 – 3.00pm
£16 Adult| £10 Child | Under 5’s FREE, booking required

The Tempest
Saturday 3 August 2019, 6.30 – 9.00pm
£16 Adult | £12 Early Bird Adult | £10 Child | Under 10’s FREE, booking required

Much Ado About Nothing
Sunday 11 August 2019, 6.30 – 9.00pm
£16 Adult | £12 Early Bird Adult | £10 Child | Under 10’s FREE, booking required

Wuthering Heights
Thursday 15 August 2019, 6.30 – 9.00pm
£16 Adult| £10 Child | Under 5’s FREE, booking required

Ordsall Hall Reproduction Tudor Wildflower Garden in Salford, Manchester

We were guests of Ordsall Hall to review, and they gave us all a gorgeous picnic tea, but we paid all other expenses ourselves.


  1. I would love to do outdoor theatre, this looks so fab xx

    1. They're running all Summer if you are coming down at any point. It is wonderful - you'd love it :)

  2. Awww it looks like you had a smashing time! I'm glad the weather was good for you to sit out and immerse yourself in the production! The picnic bags are a fantastic idea :) Sim x


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