Handlebards, a four-strong all-male troupe, are travelling 926 miles by bike, touring their take on Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet from Glasgow to London. They’ll be keeping a travel diary for AYT along the way – here, Director James Farrell tells us about getting started…


The final week of rehearsals in London was wonderful as it really gave us a chance to cement all the work we’d been doing and go into minute detail. We also had the final props and costumes, which looked great. Libby Todd, our designer, had really captured the spirit of the production with the vintage/reclaimed look we were going for – thank goodness for the charity shops of West London!

Unfortunately the reclaimed policy also led to our first, and hopefully only, disaster. The bike-pulled trailer which will be used to carry the props and costume was bought second-hand and had seen many better days. Libby tarted it up somewhat, but once we loaded it with everything, the inevitable happened and the clamp connecting it to the bike snapped, five minutes into the cycle from Battersea (where we were rehearsing) to Shoreditch (where Callum lives)…

We managed to find a replacement clamp but it wouldn’t reach us on time so it would have to be delivered to Glasgow. Using one of Callum’s shoe laces, some LX tape and a bit of sponge, we cobbled together a “clamp” of sorts that Blue Peter would have been proud of! Amazingly, this managed to get us from Shoreditch to Euston to Glasgow to the Riverside Museum, where we wait with baited breath for the replacement clamp before we set off for Falkirk on Thursday.

Our first full day rehearsing in Glasgow was brilliant, if very, very, very wet while it sounds like the rest of the country basked in glorious sunshine. But I think everyone really benefitted from being in an actual venue and finding out if all the ideas (and dreams) we’ve had will actually work. Sunday was Twelfth Night all day and today has been Romeo and Juliet (15 hours of rehearsal…), plus we met the first of the bands who’ll be supporting us en route.

It’s been a hectic and tiring first three days, but despite dodgy equipment and inclement weather we’ve made a really positive start. If the shows continue to grow on tour as much as they have over the last few days the country is in for an absolute treat!

James Farrell is the Director of Handlebards. You can find out more about their trip on Peculius’s website.