Ride on with us through all the countryside,

With comedies and tragedies of old;

Four actors upon bikes are wont to ride,

To play the greatest stories ever told.

Shakespeare’s coming back to Penang on two wheels!

The HandleBards is a troupe of cycling actors who carry their set, props and costumes across the globe to deliver environmentally sustainable Shakespeare plays. Described by none other than Sir Ian McKellen as “uproariously funny”, The HandleBards have pedalled for over 5,000 miles across the world since 2013, presenting Shakespeare’s plays as you’ve never seen them before – fast-paced, irreverent and bicycle-powered. This would be their third visit to Malaysia as ‘The Boys’ troupe previously performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.

The “fempire” strikes this time with an all-female troupe, which was recently formed in 2016, performing the classic tale of tragic young love – Romeo & Juliet. ‘The Girls’ troupe have cycled over 1000 miles performing at over 50 venues across the UK. Malaysia will be one of their first countries to visit outside of the UK. The cast is made up of only four actors who will play 19 characters between them. Who run the world? – GIRLS!

The play is set in Verona where the Montagues and Capulets are in the throes of a long-running family feud. In the midst of this, two young members of the families – Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet – fall in love at the Capulet Ball. Even though they know their love is forbidden by their family allegiances, they marry in secret in the cell of Friar Lawrence.

The next day, Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, challenges Romeo to a duel as he attended the Capulet ball without invitation. Romeo, now Tybalt’s kinsman by marriage, vows not to fight, and his friend Mercutio fights in his place. Tybalt stabs Mercutio, and in a fit of rage, Romeo kills Tybalt, resulting in his banishment from Verona.

Juliet, on hearing the news, requests Friar Lawrence’s guidance, to which he suggests she drinks a potion which makes her appear to be dead. He vows to pass on the details of the plan to Romeo, and Romeo and Juliet can escape from Verona and live their lives in happiness.

However, the news never reaches Romeo, and instead he hears of Juliet’s ‘death’, returns to Verona to find her lying dead in a crypt, and kills himself with poison. Juliet awakes, sees her husband dead, and stabs herself with his dagger. The families agree to end their long-standing feud, in memory of Romeo and Juliet.

As serious as this plot sounds, don’t expect yourself to be too serious throughout the show! Bring as many friends as you can so you have plenty of help if your stomach ends up hurting from too much laughing. Romeo and Juliet by The Handlebards received excellent reviews throughout the UK with a 5/5 rating on Facebook. The Sunderland Echo described it as “Unbelievably impressive….my face ached from laughter”.

Romeo and Juliet will be performed in Penang at penangpac, Straits Quay, on Friday 24 February 2017 for ONE DAY ONLY! So, hurry and grab your tickets as soon as you can. There will be two shows – 10 am and 8.30pm and tickets are priced at RM75 per person and RM250 for a family of four. Tickets are available via www.tix.my. For schools and NGO group rates, contact Gardner & Wife Theatre directly at 012 230 2469 or e-mail groups@gardnerandwife.com.