Maumbury Rings, Dorchester

SHAKESPEARE’S most romantic and poignant drama has been refashioned in some magical way by four lively lassies with a bicycle to create a riotous comedy that is great fun from beginning to end.

The Handlebards company and its all female cast bring silliness and impromptu asides to their open-air production in which members of the audience are roped into the action that at times is more like a teenage rave up in which the characters constantly bounce off each other in mock fight mode.

With just four actors playing around 20 roles, quick changes are key, the girls swopping codpieces for skirts when necessary while making the most of the comic possibilities of their sex changes whenever they can.

Yet in spite of the endless adlibbing, outrageous overacting and general mayhem, the company still manage to bring the play’s emotive speeches and famous lines into the action with nicely judged style and dignity at the right moments.

But slapstick comedy has challenges of its own as the cast discovered during this performance when their trusty bicycle refused to budge and the actors had to find other ways of moving the action to the next scene, not a problem for our feisty females.

A packed audience shared their enthusiasm for this way of bringing accessible Shakespeare to the stage in a touring production that gets to Shaftesbury on June 24 for a performance at the Larmer Tree Gardens. If you like laughing, be there.