NOW in its 55th year, Brownsea Open Air Theatre (BOAT) has returned to the National Trust’s Brownsea Island this week for the start of a new summer run of Shakespearean drama.

This July and August, one of the biggest theatrical projects in the south, brings you Richard III, a tragic tale of malice, envy and greed.

Visitors are invited to “pack a picnic and hop on board a boat to enjoy an evening of entertainment under the stars”. A spokesman for BOAT said: “Brownsea Island is the largest island in Poole Harbour and one of the south west’s last strongholds for the rare red squirrel.

“These beautiful surroundings make for a wonderful setting for a fantastic evening of traditional Shakespeare.

“The evening promises to have you sitting on the edge of your seat as you await Richard’s next act of cruelty as he bids for the crown.”

After a long civil war between the royal family of York and the royal family of Lancaster; England enjoys a period of peace under King Edward IV and the victorious Yorks. However, Edward’s younger brother, Richard, resents Edward’s power and the happiness of those around him. Malicious, power-hungry, and bitter about his physical deformity, Richard begins to aspire secretly to the throne and decides to kill anyone in his way in order to realise his ambition of becoming king.

A new set is designed and handmade each year by the company’s devoted volunteers and the play performed within an impressive auditorium.

“It’s always a treat to experience the tranquillity of the island after opening hours,’ says Olivia Gruitt Visitor experience and volunteering manager.

“It’s a great chance to gather with friends and family, raise a glass, and even spot some wildlife that emerges as the sun goes down.”

* Brownsea open air theatre performances will take place over the next three weeks on July 26, 29, 31 and August 2, 5, 7, 9. Tickets are £25 per person. Not recommended for children under the age of 14. For more information or to book tickets, visit website or call 07845782924.