Every year, DarkChat likes to incorporate an open air production into the schedule (despite the Edinburgh weather) and this year a production of 'As You Like It' in the beautiful Royal Botanic Garden fitted the bill. This classic play is performed by Handlebards, a touring female troupe of actors (Eleanor Dillon-Reams, Jessica Hern, Lotte Tickner and Lucy Green) who cycle from venue to venue carrying all their props with them. They explained during their current tour they have clocked up well over 900 miles.
As with most Shakespeare comedies, the plot is perplexing at times, with numerous characters donning disguise, women dressing as men etc. The ways in which these four talented performers cope with their multiple roles and disguises get some big laughs from the audience. There are some delightfully inventive moments - actors play sheep with bicycle handlebars for horns and wander through the audience, grazing on whatever takes their fancy. At this point, we realised why the audience is invited to bring picnics; these cycling actors must be permanently famished! Bicycle bells (and helmets!) are also used to good effect but you'll have to see the play for yourself to find out how.
It was a beautiful evening, with stunning views over Edinburgh and the perfect setting for the play - we saw 'The Tempest'
performed there many years ago and were pleased to return. Event organisers might want to consider letting the audience
in a little earlier to give them a few minutes to enjoy their surroundings - and their picnics - before the play begins.
An hour and forty-five minutes is longer than most Edinburgh Fringe shows but the energy of the performance kept even the
two youngest DarkChatters (eight year old twins) engaged and they were amazed to learn they had watched a play written
There is also a male Handlebards troupe performing 'A Mid-Summer Night's Dream' at the same venue but we didn't manage
to see the gentlemen too. Hopefully we'll be able to remedy this next Festival or catch them on tour.
Reviews by 8 Year Olds
It was one of Shakespeare's plays. The main characters were Rosalind, The Duke, Celia, Orlando and Oliver.
It was quite difficult to understand but I could. I enjoyed the happy bit at the end but there were also funny bits. The best bit was that it was a real Shakespeare story. I think that 10+ should see it.
It was good because you get to take a picnic (but it has to be quiet.)
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – West Gate (Venue 380)
Wednesday 9th August