Maumbury Rings, Dorchester

FOUR women on bicycles pedalling round the country and carrying all the trappings of a professional touring theatre company while performing Shakespeare’s plays- what’s not to like about that?

The Handlebards have gained a loyal following in Dorset who could certainly not be disappointed with this latest production of what is thought to be the bard’s final solo work. It is certainly a play crammed full of philosophical thoughts and magic along with unsophisticated comedy and clowning which makes it the perfect mix for the four very talented young actors in this production.

With no scenery or props, the cast, all four of them dressed as young schoolboys, have to rely on talent alone to get them through this tale of shipwreck, family feuds, loyalty and forgiveness, a task they carry out with energy and enthusiasm.

When a play has a cast of around 22 people, taking on multiple roles becomes essential but our fearless foursome also drag members of the audience into the action to take part and with amazing results – it works!

But audience participation does not end there as during the town centre performance emergency vehicles scream past the open air site and babies cry but the comedy dialogue continues, with some of it even written by Shakespeare himself!

Following their national tour, this lively and imaginative company are hosting a series of workshops in October for budding young actors, a tempting invitation which can be followed up on their website on