REVIEW: The HandleBards present A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Crook Hall, Durham

The HandleBards performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The HandleBards performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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This is Shakespeare like you’ve never seen it before.

Set in the beautiful surroundings of Durham’s Crook Hall, The HandleBards gave a brilliantly bonkers performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Cycling 1,500 miles across the country – with their set, props and costumes in tow – the four-strong troupe are delivering their unique and hilarious production to the masses.

Callum Brodie, Calum Hughes-McIntosh, Matthew Seager and Tom Dixon each play multiple roles in the rib-tickling comedy story of love, fairies and mischief.

I saw these guys last year, but even still, their sheer ingenuity amazed me.

The way they quickly swap roles – signalling the change with the ring of a tiny bicycle bell worn on their fingers, swap the scenery through a mechanism powered by a bike, hold up waistcoats and hats in the space of ‘missing’ characters and enlist the help of audience members for the more people-heavy scenes, is wonderfully inventive and the most delightful chaos I’ve ever seen.

Their performance of Shakespeare’s words isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect to see. Their over-the-top gesticulations are a riot, yet their command of their many lines and multiple roles is utterly impressive.

Their act is packed with brilliantly British humour with slapstick, silliness and all-round comic capers.

The actors perform with such magnetic enthusiasm that the time just whizzes by.

They have an obvious passion for Shakespeare and the fun they have flows out into the audience – it’s infectious.

The HandleBards performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The HandleBards performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I laughed so much I could hardly breathe, and I wasn’t alone.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a Shakespeare fan, you’ll love the HandleBards. Their unique take on the Bard’s writing is irresistibly compelling.

Five stars just don’t seem enough. I loved every last second.

The HandleBards are back at Crook Hall tomorrow (Tuesday, August 4) with Hamlet. Click here to buy tickets.

They have an obvious passion for Shakespeare and the fun they have flows out into the audience – it’s infectious.

Also, check the HandleBards website to see where else their heading on their tour.

Twitter: @vickinewmanjp

The HandleBards performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The HandleBards performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The HandleBards performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The HandleBards performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.