Something bike-powered this way comes to Haddo House

Cycling from theatre to farm, from castle to park, The HandleBards’ all-female company have been touring their irreverent Macbeth across the UK this summer and stops of at Haddo House this weekend.

By Dawn Renton
Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 6:57 am
Macbeth & Macduff: From left -  Kathryn Perkins and Jenny Smith
Macbeth & Macduff: From left - Kathryn Perkins and Jenny Smith

The most environmentally friendly Shakespearean theatre company there is, and naturally one of the most Covid-safe, are packing The Scottish Play onto their bikes and taking it to outdoor venues.

To ensure good sight lines for a socially distanced audience, the company are using a bespoke wooden stage with bicycle powered mechanisms, which travels with them in an electric van, in order to keep their emissions as low as possible.

Forget the tears and tragedy – this is a frantic, delirious, full-of-beans, bike-powered farce!

Haddo House will play host to the unique take on Macbeth.

The HandleBards sister company Slapstick Picnic will also be touring with a two-person The Importance of Being Earnest from June 26.

Macbeth director Emma Sampson said: “It’s great to get back into the rehearsal room with the HandleBards.

"Working with them is always the most fun job of my calendar year and the all-female cast has been a delight to direct.

"They are truly three of the funniest women I have ever met in my life.”

The HandleBards began with a sense of adventure, a love of Shakespeare and a nifty little pun.

Since four fearless friends (Callum Brodie, Callum Cheatle, Tom Dixon and Paul Moss) pedalled Twelfth Night to twenty UK venues in 2013, the company has grown to become an internationally renowned theatre company, bringing a uniquely irreverent brand of Shakespeare to audiences all over the globe.

The HandleBards travel by bike because they care about the planet and want to promote sustainability and healthy living.

In 2014, they won the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award.

They were nominated again in 2015, and in 2016 were nominated for The Stage’s inaugural Sustainability Award.

The HandleBards share actors and creatives with new sister company Slapstick Picnic including theatre director Nel Crouch (RSC, Young Vic), using their experience of outdoor theatre and adapting Shakespeare to produce classic tales with an untraditional twist.

The HandleBards present: Macbeth is at Haddo House, Ellon on September 5. The performance begins at 7pm. For tickets, visit

This is an outdoor production, so please bring your own chair or blanket to sit on, a picnic to dig into, and dress for the weather!

Doors open at 6pm, so bring a picnic and come and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Chairs, picnics, blankets and any other low level accessories are welcome.

In case of rain, please don’t bring umbrellas as they block sight-lines for other audience members. Ponchos and raincoats are just as fetching, so please wear these instead.

The courtyard café at Haddo will be open for pre-show food and beverage. The intermission stall will be cash only.