Notts AA man rescued cast of William Shakespeare's '˜A Midsummer Night's Dream' after van breakdown
The performers, from open-air touring theatre company Illyria, were on their way to a production at Linford Manor, Milton Keynes, when they broke down at Tibshelf services on the M1 in Derbyshire, more than 90 miles from their destination.
The AA were called to get the show back on the road after a head gasket fault left the actors unable to complete the journey in their transit van, which contained equipment including the stage, scenery, costumes, props and lighting.
And recovery operator, Kristian Hatton, received plaudits from the crowd when he arrived with the cast.
He said: “They had been worrying that they might have to cancel, so they were over the moon when we got there around 8pm to a cheering audience - talk about making a dramatic entrance.
“I’ve been a Recovery Patrol with the AA for more than 15 years and it’s not every day you get a reaction like that. Everyone was applauding, it really made me laugh, it just goes to show that anything can happen.”
Rather than having to call off the sold-out Shakespeare in the Park event, the delighted and relieved organisers, The Parks Trust, were instead able to tell the audience that the show would go on, albeit a little later than billed.
The cast quickly set out to build the stage while the crowds enjoyed their picnics.
Oliver Gray, Artistic Director from Illyria, described the attending patrol as “a very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.”
He said: “Being a touring theatre company, we do nightly shows and have a rigid schedule to stick to. Our vans are the backbone of that so when something goes wrong we have to leap into action, that’s why our situation was so desperate.
“I can certainly say that the AA saved the day, not just for us but for an audience of 400 people in Milton Keynes.
“When we arrived on the back of the recovery vehicle, the audience parted like the red sea. Everybody was so incredibly patient and understanding and the play went down a storm.”