Much Ado About Nothing

A night at the theatre

It was with some excitement that I greeted the FB invite from Katie to join them in going to the theatre. Shakespeare in Bangalore performed by a group of actors from London called the Handlebards. On Friday 23rd September they were performing at the Alliance Francais which is in the northern part of the city. After quickly checking diaries, and that it was suitable for Zahra (it was, recommended for 8+ years) we asked Katie to book us tickets. At INR 500 each, the tickets were a bargain.

We waited with trepidation in case the performance was cancelled due to the ongoing Cauvery river water dispute.Thankfully it wasn’t. 

Who are the Handlebards?

The Handlebards are group of actors from London who tour the world (yes, you did read that right, the world) on their bikes. They have cycled over 5,000 miles around the world to perform Shakespeare. They carry sets, props and costumes on their bikes. Very environmentally friendly. In fact they won the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award in 2014. Check them out at or or Twitter @Handlebards.

The Play

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy play by William Shakespeare which combines elements of comedic hilarity with more serious thoughts and observations on honour, shame and court politics.

By means of  overhearing gossip, Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other. Claudio is tricked (by the Prince’s brother, boo hiss!) into rejecting Hero at the altar on the (mistaken) belief that she has been unfaithful. At the end, Benedick and Beatrice join forces to set things right and the others join in a dance celebrating the marriages of the two couples.

The performance

We arrived in good time and met up with our friends. There was a group of 18 of us in the end. We mingled in the foyer of the Alliance Francais building. At some point the doors to the auditorium opened and we started to filer in. In an orderly queue. A proper queue! We couldn’t believe it. No pushing in by people who considered themselves more important or their needs more urgent than yours; not a scrum or scramble to get in first, but a proper queue. (I know I am really revealing my British nature here but it was so lovely to have an orderly queue for a change.) when we entered the auditorium the seating was free seating so we could sit anywhere we liked. We headed over to the far side on a raised platform where a group of seats were available together. The raised platform also enabled Zahra to see better too.

It was due to start at 7:30pm (and amazingly was only a few minutes late starting) and last for 80 minutes. There was no interval.  We had been promised an “extremely energetic, charmingly chaotic” performance. Oh my gosh, it was brilliant. The four actors introduced themselves at the beginning and told us how many roles and characters they would be playing. It was going to get confusing and I was concerned that Zahra would not be able to follow it. I needn’t have had any concerns. After about 5 mins we were easily following the dialogue and characters, including the sock puppets! 

It was an hilarious performance. Zahra was laughing out loud along with us. The interpretation was simply brilliant. Dragging a few audience members up to assist with some of the parts on occasion also added to the fun as the bewildered patrons stood bemused on stage clearly thinking that this was not hoe they had envisaged enjoying the performance. The took part with good humour and received rapturous applause when they departed the stage. My favourite character was Beatrice, a simply brilliant interpretation of the character by the male actor, which also added to the comedy.

After the Show

After the show a couple of the actors remained on stage and chatted to audience members. Zahra wanted to say thank you for “an awesome” evening. She really had enjoyed it. We thanked them for a wonderful introduction to Shakespeare for her. It was brilliant.

It was a much needed relaxing and enjoyable night out after all the recent tension and rioting in Bangalore. 

Zahra thanks one of the actors for “an awesome” evening


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