WHAT did William Shakespeare get up to as a child?

Leeds theatre company Wrongsemble come up with an answer in Billy Shakes: Wonderboy!, a barmy family show billed as "the imagined childhood of the Big Bard himself".

From July 23 to August 24, Billy Shakes will pop up in Shakespeare's Village, the pop-up theatre site for this summer's Shakespeare's Rose Theatre on the Castle car park in York.

Audiences are invited to join Billy Shakes and his two mates in the groundlings’ courtyard of the 13-sided replica Elizabethan theatre, at the foot of Clifford’s Tower, for an "interactive and engaging experience" in this historical setting.

To complement Lunchbox Theatrical Productions' productions of Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night during the afternoons and evenings, Wrongsemble will present their irreverent, raucous introduction to the delights of Shakespeare in a 50-minute show for children aged four upwards and their grown-ups.

In Billy Shakes: Wonderboy!, William Shakespeare discovers his voice and the tales that have delighted the world for centuries since. "Specially created to speak to audiences of all ages, this show will have four year olds captivated, grandparents giggling, and songs stuck in your head for weeks to come," say Wrongsemble. "All of this while exploring characters, stories and quotes from the big Bard himself; there’s plenty in there for the Shakespeare buff in your family."

York Press:

Harri Pitches as Billy Shakes at the Shakespeare Village during the Shakespeare's Rose Theatre season in York

The fun-filled show combines original live music played on a medley of instruments with puppetry and humorous historical inaccuracies, while embracing the perennial joy of storytelling.

In the cast will be Harri Pitches as Billy Shakes and Barty Butter; Victoria Brazier as Burbage and Billy's Mum and Alyce Liburd as Cecil and Teacher.

Elvi Piper, Wrongsemble's artistic director, says: "We're so excited to be partnering with Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre. I cannot imagine a more perfect place for young audiences to be introduced to Shakespeare’s work. This show is a real family treat, with an extremely talented cast of actor-musicians, and is full of hilarious slapstick comedy. We cannot wait to invite the youngest audiences of the region to experience this inspiring venue."

Wrongsemble's audiences will become the audience in the stories, with children encouraged to cheer, boo, heckle, clap and even throw (soft toy) fruit and vegetables at the villain.

Chemeana Lacey, the show's senior producer, says: "The audiences of York are in for a cracking summer holiday because this show truly speaks to all generations. At the heart of Billy Shakes: Wonderboy! is the fact that there are stories within us all, like there are in Billy.

"When that's combined with the amazing soundtrack, and beautiful design inside the already stunning venue, it makes for a show that will be impossible to forget."

Billy Shakes: Wonderboy! will be performed at 10.30am on July 23, 25, 27, 28 and 30 and August 1, 3, 4, 6, 8,10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22 and 24.

Groundlings and seated tickets are on sale on 01904 623568 and 0844 847 2483 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.