AN Ellesmere Port theatre company has had little time to reflect on the success of its sell-out Shakespeare show at The Lowry in Salford – as it's all systems go back at base.

The Boaty Theatre Company held a three-night production run with its contemporary take on the tragedy, and is already back to where it had left off prior to production week.

That is delivering a regular programme of weekly community-based, socially inclusive and accessible activities including the 'Sunday Social' (lovingly described by attendees as a “musically inclined ‘knit and natter’ group”), 'Ed’s Riff Shop' (a skill-share guitar workshop) and a writer’s cafe which promotes positive mental well-being; 'The Write Course’ Writer’s Cafe.

Traditionally, Polonius is a male role but in the company's latest adaption, The Boaty switched up the scheming father of Laertes and Ophelia for a much more Machiavellian mother - 'Polonia’ - who was none-the-less incredibly well-received with Jane Hamlet (who also doubled as Horatio) winning the audience over very early on.

The Boaty’s take on this classic exploration of the human condition utilised the original language of the text, but there was not a ruffle or codpiece in sight!

And the gender-swapping didn’t stop with Polonia and Horatio, but was extended throughout the production to include Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Laertes and even Hamlet; all of whom were played by female actors and as most definitely portrayed as female characters.

When asked about the decisions behind the changes, director Laura J Harris responded: “We ran a number of pre-casting workshops during our research and development period.

"Everyone who was going to be involved in the production was invited to take part and we played around with various different scenes from the play. We considered time and setting in regard to the story that we wanted to tell and, therefore also in regard to the characters that would populate the world we would create to tell that story.

"Once we started to establish the world that these characters were living in and why, we spent a lot of time improvising potential scenes with pairs and groups of characters.”

Audiences responded with great enthusiasm to the Ellesmere Port based company from the start of the play with many commenting afterwards that they felt they had been “literally transported” [Jade Franks, Wirral] and that they were “captivated for the entirety of the play, during which the time just flew ”[Anon].

Filled with pathos, humour and action throughout, the play concluded a sword-fight in the final scene, mere feet from the audience.

Laura – who also took on the title role – said about the second evening’s choreographed fight: “The second night was certainly interesting when it came to prop mishaps!

"During the performance in duel between Laertes and Hamlet, Charlotte (Pedley) and I were mid-fight when my fencing sword snapped!

"We’ve used them dozens of times before and they had been sturdy and reliable until that point! Fortunately, we had choreographed a section with a second dagger-like short-sword and so we were able to make it look like the sword breaking was the reason for the change to the shortswords!

"It certainly added a new dynamic to the scene. As did the 'gun mishap' during the nunnery scene of the same performance.

"We have a starting pistol that fires blanks, which is used by Hamlet when she shoots Polonia in Act 3, Scene 4; but prior to its use at this point, Hamlet has taken to carrying it around with her and (in our adaptation) comes pretty close to taking her own life at the tail-end of the 'To be or not to be' soliloquy.

"She is prevented from taking this action by Ophelia (played by Rebekah McLoughlin).

On the second night’s performance, I had cocked the pistol during the 'To be…' speech, but had not managed to release it before Becky took the gun from me.

"Consequently, when Ophelia took up the gun near the end of the scene, it fired.

"As emotions run high during this scene and the cast backstage could see none of the action, they were all left momentarily wondering whether Ophelia had just shot Hamlet! Which would have been an interesting – and somewhat shorter – version of this play!

"As it was, the gun fired at the floor, but again, this mishap really heightened and made very real the action that had both immediately proceeded and which would follow it; especially when Ophelia - with actual tears streaming down her face - then held the gun to her own head!

"It was a crazy, but brilliant evening. In fact, it as a brilliant production run, full stop. ”

There will be plenty more chances to see The Boaty Theatre Company in action, as it travels to Storyhouse, Bridge Farm Community Wellness Gardens, The Gladstone Theatre and The Lowry.

The Boaty Theatre Company’s Youth Performers will be making their way to Chester’s Storyhouse on March 20-21, before returning to The Lowry once again in April, to perform their version of Chris Thompson’s incredible LGBT+ Youth Play in conjunction with National Theatre Connections; 'Dungeness’.

Tickets should be on sale now at

For further information and updates regarding The Boaty Theatre Company (including joining their local youth theatre group), visit or find the group on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.