Maumbury Rings, Dorchester

HOW do four girls manage to pull off a performance of a Shakespeare comedy which has a cast of more than a dozen characters?

Simple, if you are one of the Handlebards cast of players.

These are not just ordinary lasses, they are women of spirit and resourcefulness as they travel the world on bicycles to present their environmentally friendly productions, their latest venture taking them from London to Edinburgh and back, a distance of nearly 1,000 miles.

In this open-air production, the girls take the play by the scruff of the neck and squeeze out every comic possibility from a scenario that includes pretending to be men who are pretending to be women and falling in love with anyone who happens to be around, not to mention dragging members of the audience into the fray.

The whole drama starts with a game of badminton – well it would wouldn’t it? – and continues with boxing, battling with a lion and bicycling round the Forest of Arden to find a lover.

Shakespeare is certainly in there some of the time as the plot thickens but mostly it is a whole lot of silly chaotic fun with four talented young actors thinking up ways to make the audience laugh, the Bard of Avon would have loved it.

The production moves to Bournemouth and will continue on its national tour, calling at Salisbury on Saturday September 16 for another outdoor romp.