Woohoo, hurray, hurrah, and lots of other positive, shouty noises. I finally got to see a live theatre performance yesterday evening.
For the last 3 years going to a Handlebards performance has become a bit of a summer tradition. It’s Shakespeare but not as you’d see it in an actual theatre.
The Handlebards usually have 2 touring companies – 4 women and 4 blokes – who cycle round the country to the Edinburgh Festival and back performing Shakespeare plays in a variety of venues.
Because of lockdown, this year has been somewhat different but 3 of the actors, who happen to live in the same house, decided to do a touring production of Romeo and Juliet.
We went to see them at Kiplin Hall near Richmond in North Yorkshire. The Hall was built in 1619, so it’s easy to imagine that touring troops of actors have performed Shakespeare’s plays on the West Lawn since it was built.
I don’t imagine that many of those productions have managed to be quite as anarchic as this one though!
It must be a challenge stripping a play as well known as this one back to its essential components so that it can be performed by 3 people. That they managed to do this is credit to the skill of the actors and director. I’d like to name check them to give them credit, but I can’t find any where on The Handlebards social media channels that tells me who they are. The actors may be Lucy, Paul, and Tom. Please, Handlebards, give them some public acknowledgement.
It reminds me why I always buy a programme when I go to the theatre. I understand why programmes weren’t available, but it’s the first time since I was 11 years old that I haven’t had a programme from a production I’ve seen.
Anyway, back to the production.
This was always going to be Romeo and Juliet played for laughs; you can’t play it serious when both Juliet and Romeo have to get up to play other parts when they’ve just died! Actually, I think the laughs, and laughing at death, is exactly what we needed whilst we are living through such uncertain times.
Extra laughs were provided as Michael tried to put on a plastic poncho as the drizzle started to settle in! I didn’t really it was such a complicated job. Not only did our party get the giggles but a few others sitting around us too.
For me, open air theatre will never replace going to see a production in an actual theatre. I miss the buzz and chatter as people start taking their seats. That expectant silence that falls as the house lights go down is magical to me. And staying dry when it’s raining outside is always a bonus.
But, since I can’t go to an actual theatre, and since I love the anarchy of The Handlebards, I’ll take what I can and recommend you do the same and get out to see them.
Click here to find out more about The Handlebards
Click here to find out more about Kiplin Hall
The photograph at the top is by Rah Petherbridge