All of us here love bikes, and a good number of us are into theatre. But I doubt there are many who would imagine how these two passions can be related.
Last night the all female troupe of the cycle touring theatre company, the Handlebards arrived in Salford after a two day trip across the Peak District for their 27th show of this year’s tour performing Shakespeare’s “As you like it” in a charmingly chaotic fashion.
The Handlebards formed in 2012, originally as an all boys theatre troupe with a love of adventure and a “yes man” mentality and have spent the last summers since touring Shakesperian verse with props, set and character all piled onto their bicycles. As you can imagine, this will take its toll on their two wheeled steeds, so it was only natural that their bikes should get a little TLC on arrival! The BikeHive’s Jo and Lady Pedal’s Hannah got to work in the Manchester Bike Hire workshop to check over all the essentials and do the most thorough job possible in the time frame before the show. It was a rare treat to be servicing custom built bikes and investigating this intriguing combination of parts – The girls troupe is sponsored with new edition Pashley tourers, sporting disc brakes and an 8-speed hub gear painted in special edition maroon.
We had the privilege of cycling the final two bikes from the workshop up to Ordsall Hall where the troupe was preparing for their performance in the beautifully kept grounds of the manor under a warm evening sun. The lawn was scattered with camping chairs, blankets and picnics. The show itself began with a bang with the girls bursting into song to the tune of a ukulele. Audience participation and blurred lines between character and reality made for a feeling of authenticity and a fantastically hilarious show with cross-dressing, character swapping, and a hilarious use of props. The performance was high energy and fast paced, keeping everyone engaged throughout – had I not met them on arrival it would have been easy to forget just how far these talented girls had cycled to be there, they are truly a force of nature with seemingly endless reserves of energy!
We had a thoroughly pleasant evening and it was a real pleasure to meet these most talented and resilient actors who have done an excellent job of doing what they love, in a sustainable and productive way! Well done Handlebards!
If you missed the girls’ troupe this time, the boys’ troupe will be performing at Ordsall Hall on the 10th August.
See their full schedule for dates, venues and booking links here.