Review: Billy Shakes: Wonderboy!, Shakespeare's Rose Theatre, York, until August 24. Box office: 01904 623568 and 0844 847 2483 or at

HENRY V, The Tempest, Twelfth Night and Hamlet are not the only plays popping up on the Shakespearean pop-up stage in York this summer.

So too is Billy Shakes: Wonderboy!, Leeds company Wrongsemble's amusing, anarchic-spirited account of what "Shakespeare got up to as a child".

A cast of three highly energetic, ever enthusiastic actor-musicians revels in a barmy family show billed as "the imagined childhood of the Big Bard himself".

Wrongsemble have built a thrust stage that juts out from the steps on the wooden stage apron with props, musical instruments, parasols, baskets, costumes, a sea-green stepladder, fire bucket, hat stand, mop and Elizabethan ruff wrestling each other for space.

"The next 60-minute traffic of our stage" will be similarly busy as Harri Pitches, Victoria Brazier and and Alyce Liburd immediately knock down theatre's "fourth wall" to say they thought the show was starting at 11am, not 10.30am, and so they are in a mad rush to be ready, as Pitches frantically brushes the floor.

Pitches plays typically slobby. perennially tired schoolboy turned wonder wordsmith Billy Shakes and vainglorious actor Barty Butter; Brazier, Burbage and Billy's Mum; Liburd, Cecil and Teacher: all caricatures, all delightfully humorous, in a fast-flying play full of storytelling verve; historical but funny, forgivable inaccuracies and exaggerations; childish wonder; puppet cameos; jaunty songs; cheeky panache; all manner of Shakespeare characters, quotes, stories and send-ups; and endless variations on "To be or not to be". To go or not to go? Go, child and adult alike. This show is great Shakes.

Charles Hutchinson