SOME of Britain's best actors are swapping the glamour of London's West End for the rustic surroundings of the New Forest.

Members of London Touring Players are preparing to stage an open air production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest at Furzey Gardens, near Minstead.

The highly-acclaimed drama company comprises actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe and the National Theatre as well as the West End.

Their credits include EastEnders, Call the Midwife and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Last summer London Touring Players visited the Forest to perform two Shakespeare plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, in woodland used by the Beaulieu-based Countryside Education Trust.

A few months later they returned to the area stage A Christmas Carol against the backdrop of Beaulieu Abbey ruins.

Furzey Gardens is a woodland attraction that is open to the public.

The gardens, which celebrate their centenary next year, are run by the Minstead Trust, which provide support and work experience for people with learning disabilities.

First performed in London in 1895 The Importance of Being Earnest is a drawing room farce featuring mistaken identities, secret engagements and lovers' entanglements.

The director of the Furzey Gardens production is Abbey Wright, who described it as one of the funniest plays ever written.

"It flies along at a great pace and is a joyful and mischievous celebration of love," she said.

In the past few weeks a large number of indoor theatres have returned to full capacity but many people are still nervous about setting foot inside one or using public transport to get there.

Abbey said: "The Furzey Gardens setting is incredibly pretty and magical as night falls.

"The production will feature music hall songs, romance and high comedy. It will be a joyous and uplifting evening out for the whole family, in a Covid secure, socially distanced, open air setting.”

Members of the cast Alasdair Buchan, who plays Algernon.

He said: "The greatest joy of the past year has been coming to Beaulieu to create unique and magical productions in these stunning settings.

"I’m honoured to have been asked back to appear in such an iconic play and share the remarkable wit and riotous nonsense of Wilde’s world with audiences.”

The play will be staged between August 24 and September 4. For tickets visit