THE Hillbark Players will stage William Shakespeare's The Tempest - their first production since the pandemic - at a 500-seat open air theatre in the woods at Royden Park later this month.

Directed by Martin Riley, this production of play written by the bard towards the end of his life - featuring a combination of comedy, tragedy and romance - will be staged from June 20-25.

Wirral Globe:

Cast in rehearsal

Caroline Watkinson, publicity officer from the Hillbark Players, described the production as Steampunk Shakespeare.

She told the Globe: "Imagine a world of Victorian aristocrats and explorers with futuristic steam and mechanical technology, dressed in outlandish costumes. Cast them away on an island after a mighty storm conjured up by a vengeful magician.

Wirral Globe:

Cast in rehearsal

"Add in some memorable verse by William Shakespeare and you have the formula for Hillbark Players outdoor production of The Tempest which will be opening for a week on June 20 in Royden Park.

"Why steampunk? Because Shakespeare’s play is a story set on a mysterious island full of monsters and spirits and the strangeness of the island and its inhabitants is paralleled by the oddness of the Steampunk world where technological progress is based not on electricity, but on the steam engine."

Wirral Globe:

Castmember in rehearsal

Caroline continued: "The production's director Martin Riley is an established actor having played several big Hillbarker roles and has also directed 'Much Ado About Nothing' in 2015 and 'Shakespeare in War & Peace' in 2018.

"Martin was awarded a NODA nomination in 2016 for Best Supporting Actor (Henry V) and in 2018 for Best Director (Goodnight Mr Tom).

"We have lots of great talent in this production with Carl Howard playing the usurped Duke of Milan and magician Prospero and Charles Riley playing the dispossessed islander Caliban.

"Hillbark regulars Simon and Pauline Garland play the comedy duo Trinculo and Stephano whilst the brilliant Mark Prescott is playing Alonso!

Wirral Globe:

Cast in rehearsal

"Charles and Mark have been nominated for NODA awards multiple times with Mark receiving the Best Actor Award for his portrayal of Fagan.

"Hillbark Players are the company who have brought you open-air Shakespeare on the Wirral since 1964 and we are proud of our history of supporting the arts on Wirral.

"Our company will sprinkle its magic and deliver some of the finest performers in the region, undercover seating and theatre quality sound and lighting.

"We don’t stop there … Steampunk and Shakespeare combine in Royden Park that week! True to the Steampunk ethos we will add and then add some more!

"Additionally, Hillbark Players have always been keen to invest in the education of Shakespeare and involve local schools in the production.

"In recent years we have sold out our midweek schools’ matinée for children from 10 to 18."

"The Hillbark Committee are working hard to constantly give cast and crew a Covid secure space to rehearse and we are confident that by June we will be able to provide a safe outdoor environment for vaccinated people once again to enjoy theatre in the open air.

"In the meantime, much work is being undertaken to ensure that the planning for costumes, props and set design is complete and of our usual high standard.

We are looking forward to welcoming our loyal patrons back to Royden Park to support local theatre springing back to life! Help us, help Wirral get theatre back to where it should be!

More information can be found on social media: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook or the Hillbark Players website:

Tickets are now on sale from or the Floral Pavilion on 0151 666 0000