The HandleBards ride in for Romeo and Juliet

The HandleBards will be performing Romeo and Juliet.
The HandleBards will be performing Romeo and Juliet.
Carousel by South Downe Musical Society. Nick Williams and Becky North.

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Four actors have four bicycles, play 40 characters and are currently in the middle of a 926- mile adventure – and they pause for breath at the Groundlings Theatre, Portsea, tonight.

The HandleBards, an all-male troupe of performers, are pedalling from Glasgow to London, and they’re performing Romeo and Juliet at theatres on the way.

To add to the challenge, the group, which is part of the theatre company Peculious, is carrying all the set, props, costumes and camping equipment necessary on the bikes. The distance is the equivalent of travelling between Land’s End and John O’ Groats.

Passing through 25 venues, they will be stopping in Portsmouth four days before their final stop at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

Richard Stride, the director of Groundlings Theatre, says: ‘I think it’s one of the most exciting things to happen here. They haven’t got a carbon footprint and it’s probably more than 1,000 miles now because we were a last-minute addition to the tour.’

The HandleBards, who will set the Shakespeare play in the 1930s, are restricted to using only recycled items as part of their set and props. Their bikes will be rigged up to power various contraptions as part of the performance.

Richard adds: ‘The fact that they are carrying all their equipment and everything they need is amazing, but it’s also four guys playing all the roles, which means one of them will play Juliet.

‘That’s how it would have been performed more than 400 years ago, so I think it will be interesting to see how they face the challenge.’

Tickets: £10 to £12, or £35 for a family, from Groundlings Theatre, Portsea, on (023) 9273 7370 or go to Show starts 7.30pm.