This year's summer of theatre at the Old Town Bowl in the Town Gardens kicked off with a madcap improvised Shakespeare Story.

The Old Town Bowl is a unique venue that South Swindon Parish Council that are hosting a number of events in - all in order to raise money towards its eventual restoration and securing its long-term future. 

And as a result, we are getting excellent pieces of theatre to Swindon for audiences to enjoy in the magical outdoors.

Shake It Up: The Improvised Shakespeare Story is a small four-piece of actors well versed in the language of the infamous bard who spin a fresh Shakespeare-esque story on the spot. 

The actors take cues from the audience at the beginning, asking if we'd like to see a comedy, a tragedy or a history. 

The Swindon audience plucked for a tragedy, with one woman in the front role providing the crux of the story for the troupe to make up and perform - she once had a neighbour she absolutely hated who used to cut her bushes without permission. 

We won't name the offending former neighbour in question just in case they happen to read this - but needless to say, they became the centre of a sprawling epic with the actors gleefully reminding everyone how despicable they were for their bush-trimming antics. 

The story, set in Minehead and Cricklade, or rather Crinkleton as one actor accidentally said before everyone else rolled with it, involved a pair of travellers trying to track down the evil neighbour, ghost parents revealing a murder and a bizarre love triangle among other things. 

Every now and then, the actors would read a line from a piece of paper that had been handed in by members of the audience and written before the show. This led to amazing out-of-context lines like "I love it when he peels the potatoes" and "I like big buttocks and I cannot besmirch the truth."

The four-piece was able to turn all of this randomness into quite a compelling tragedy, which is impressive in itself, but the fact they were able to end the whole story with a thrilling climax in typical Shakespearean fashion (everyone dies) was very impressive indeed

In my review of last year's Midsummer Nights Dream, I enthused that the Old Town Bowl has a certain magic to it that lends itself well to Shakespeare, and I am pleased to report that self-same magic was present for this as well - a fun evening at a special venue!

For more information on events at the Bowl, visit -