In simpler times, a big night out meant people gathering under the stars for a theatre performance, where they could be whisked off to another world for an evening.

This summer, there’s a way you can travel back to Elizabethan times and experience Shakespeare the way it all began.

Ottawa independent theatre ensemble A Company of Fools is touring city parks this month and next to put on nightly shows of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

The play follows two pairs of lovers — Claudio and Hero, who are in love, and Benedick and Beatrice, who are at each other’s throats — and has a storyline of twists, turns and villainous plots.

“For a lot of people, Much Ado About Nothing is their favourite Shakespearian play,” said director Richard Gélinas. “It’s really a lot of fun, and has one of Shakespeare’s most famous couples in it.”

The opening night of the all-ages show is this Friday at Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill, with subsequent shows running at parks all over Ottawa until August 10.

Fools’ artistic director Scott Florence said the company has been struggling a bit financially since the economy turned, but he sees being forced to make do as actually an opportunity for something more artistic and creative to emerge.

“Art thrives in uncertain times,” he said.