2017 - Hamlet

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Hamlet confronts his mother Gertrude

Dates & Location

Monday 19th June - Saturday 24th June 2017
Evenings at 7.30pm - Saturday matinee at 2pm

Royden Park, Frankby, Wirral


Tickets were on sale from the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton

Day Stands A & C Stands A & C Stand B
Monday, Tuesday £12.00 £14.00 £16.00
Wednesday, Thursday £16.00 £18.00 £20.00
Friday, Saturday Evening £18.00 £20.00 £22.00
Saturday Matinee £10.00 £12.00 £14.00


Each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee by Floral Pavilion.


Monday and Tuesday Special Offer
Book an Adult and an Under 16 ticket in certain seats in Stands A or C and save £5.00.
( the Floral website will indicate which seats are in the offer )


VIP Package available in Stand B - for just an additional £20 per ticket
( the Floral website will indicate which seats have been reserved for the offer )

These must be pre-booked and will not be available on the door.

" With the best seats in the house, a complimentary programme, indulge in Cava and canapés
in our VIP tent served by waitresses and waiters before the production and during the interval;
Or simply treat your family to an outing they’ll never forget.
Whatever the occasion, our VIP Experiences will make you feel centre-stage"

The plot

A ghostly visitor with a shocking secret. A daughter devastated by loss. A world turned upside down by betrayal, mistrust and calculated madness. A performance, and one man’s relentless pursuit of the truth. Rulers, servants and a dysfunctional Danish family. Friendships, rivalries and traps. False loyalties and ill-fated love. A deadly duel, revenge – and murder.

Hillbark Players return in 2017 with a boldly atmospheric and compelling production of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. Grand in scope and rich in language, and including a surprising streak of humour, this iconic play is the original – and undoubtedly the best – Scandinavian drama, and includes one of the most famous questions of all time.

As well as being a unique part of Wirral’s cultural heritage, Hillbark Players have become the longest-established open-air Shakespeare company in the North West. Beneath midsummer skies in the magical setting of Royden Park, come and join us for an unforgettable evening of classic Shakespearian entertainment!

“A great night out, where Shakespeare’s work remains as it was for the original audience - a living event”.

The full cast and crew of Hamlet 2017

The Cast  
Fransisco - a soldier at Esinore David Caldwell
Bernardo - a soldier at Esinore Andy Jordan
Horatio - Hamlet's best friend Stuart Rathe
Marcellus - a soldier at Esinore Simon Garland
Claudius - Brother of King Hamlet. uncle to Hamlet, and recently married to Queen Gertrude.
The new King of Denmark
Charles Riley
Cornelius - An Ambassador of the Danish Court David Bolitho
Voltemand - An Ambassador of the Danish Court Martin Riley
Laertes - Polonia's Son, Ophelia's elder brother Theo Spofforth
Polonia - mother of Laertes and Ophelia.
A close advisor to Claudius.
Caroline Kay
Hamlet - Prince of Denmark. Gertrude's son. Adam Stubbs
Gertrude - Hamlet's mother. Queen of Denmark.
Widow of King Hamlet, recently married to his brother Claudius.
Pauline Garland
Ophelia - Polonia's daughter. Laertes sister.
Possible lover and confidante of hamlet.
Fiona Williams
Ghost - of the late King Hamlet and Hamlet's father. Mike Ellis
Reynaldo - a trusted servant in Polonia's retinue. Jack Hirons
Rosencrantz - Childhood friend of Hamlet James Dorman
Guildernstern - Childhood friend of Hamlet Charlotte Cumming
The Player King - Leader of a troupe of strolling players. Keith Hill
The Player Queen - one of the acting troupe. Carys Cooper
First Player - one of the acting troupe. Daniel Short
Second Player - one of the acting troupe. Gemma Davidson
Fortinbras - Prince of Norway - a military leader. Daniel Short
Captain - in the Norweigan Army Adrian Davies
Osric - an official of the Danish Court Adrian Davies
Messenger Jack Hirons
First Gravedigger Andy Jordan
Second Gravedigger Geraldine Moloney- Judge
Ambassador - from England James Kay
Priest David Caldwell
Lady/servant at the Court Alexander Breathnach
Lady/servant at the Court Karen Cumming

Lady/servant at the Court

Sally Lynam


The production team




                                                Nick Sample

Assistanrt Director Ruth Stenhouse
Scrpt consultant and
Associate Director
Stuart Rathe
Scenic Design Nick Sample and  Nigel Cooper
Chief Electrician Simon Ollman
Lighting Nigel Cooper
Sound Peter Elliott
Costume Design Paula Cain
Costumes produced by Chester Costume House
Fight Arrangements Dan Meigh
Wardrobe Mistresses Jill Breckon,   Nessa Garland
Stage Manager Gareth Cooper

Ben Howarth, Ruth Stenhouse, Ian Tyrer  Lelia Gwynne

ASM ( Book ) Ann Warr
Properties Nessa Garland  Ian Tyrer  Dave Bolitho
Props Requisitioning Keith Hill, Nessa Garland
Sound And Lighting Crew Simon Ollman, Daniel Ellis,  Ray ByrneSea Rainey
Scenic Construction Richard Smith, Steve Drewe, Ben Howarth, James Kay,    Charles Riley,
Nigel Cooper,
  Gareth Cooper    Nessa Garland    Ian Tyrer
Ruth Stenhouse,
Box Office Manager Ann Warr
Assisted by Janet Reed,  Helen Brickwood
Front of House Manager Simon Deere
Front of House Team Rachel Holmes, Rob Poston, Joanne Poston, Janet Ellis, Marc Smith,
David Garry, Mark Jones, George Jones, John Lees, Gordon Wallis,
Victoria Pownall, Joan Reynolds Jones, Sheila Disley, Frank Disley,
Amy Duggan, Jan Bradshaw, Jean Taylor, Ted Bullen, Phillipa Hipwell,
Marie Williams and many other 'supporting players'
Press, Publicity and Promotion Ruth Stenhouse, Nick Sample , Gareth Cooper    Karen Cumming
Publicity and Programme Design Nick Sample - with special thanks to Marian Sample
Leaflet distribution Dylan and Titch
Audition Panel Nick Sample ,   Ruth Stenhouse, David Oliver

The set of Hamlet

The arena by night       

Peter and Nigel on duty            


Simon and Daniel hard at work in the sparks tent

Ian and Nessa in the Props tent

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Promotional leaflets

         click to enlarge images


Pop-up stand

Press adverts / articles

Wirral Globe and Liverpool Echo adverts

Schools Promotional Poster

Promotional Beer Mat

Promotional Bookmark


Floral Pavilion brochure advert

Sponsorship Brochure

Reviews and emails

Chris High Review

A warm summer night in Royden Park near West Kirby on Wirral. Could there possibly be a more idyllic setting for The Hillbark Players to enact the murder and mayhem that exists within Prince Hamlet’s Denmark? A setting and a production of incomparable beauty that’s filled with energy and a curious lightness that makes the three hours seem half that. The twenty-sixth, biennial Shakespeare production to be put on by this most accomplished of amateur productions companies, puts many a professional troupe to shame. Tight, engaging, enthralling and - above all - passionate, there is not a duff performance to be seen or a single actor who does not revel in their moment beneath the clear blue skies.

As enchanting as any auditorium, the clearing in the woods shrouds these productions in its own natural ambience. The lights reflecting down upon proceedings from the surrounding trees manage to imbue events with their own spectral presence. This long before Mike Ellis makes his ghostly appearance as the newly murdered king, amidst clouds of dry ice and a booming voice that echoes from the hedgerows. The set is simple but effective. Elsinore is a duel tiered affair in and around which the action takes place, whereas the costumes are each Christmas box bright and accompanied by some of the most lethal looking props imaginable.  As already said, the acting is exemplary, with director Nick Sample having marshalled his troops to within a gnats whisker of perfection. As Claudius, the usurper king, Charles Riley is huge in both voice and deed. His presence is as kingly as his performance, with his deceit lying in his normality.

As Gertrude and Polonia, Pauline Garland and Caroline Kay are both assured in what are two of the most harrowing roles The Bard has created for women players. Similarly, Fiona Williams totally nails the angst and anxiety of Ophelia; her distress and rage clear for all to see. As Horatio, Stuart Rathe is what everybody wants in a best mate: confident, assured, laid back and determinedly loyal, his is a performance to savour, as is that of Theo Spofforth as the doomed, damned Laertes. And for Pythonesque shenanigans, look no further than Andy Jordan and Geraldine Molony-Judge as the bawdy gravediggers. Yet, with all this said, there is little doubt that the performance of the evening has to sit firmly with the play’s eponymous character. As with all plays, there are good and bad productions even of Shakespeare’s longest and arguably most beloved of plays. In all of these, the actor playing the lead is either perceived as being either strong or weak in the role of which many, if not everybody, knows at least one line which he utters.

In Adam Stubbs, however, The Hillbark Players have unearthed a true, dynamic, charismatic and thoroughly captivating Prince of Denmark. His delivery and cadence are quite simply top notch, his manner as thought provoking as it is deliciously well timed and his overall ‘normality’ in the face of adversity is as uplifting as it is incredible to watch. Hamlet may be lofty, metaphysical and wide-reaching. It is also physical, immediate and, in stages, a deeply personal journey. For every “bare bodkin”, there is a “neither a lender nor borrower be”, “to be or not to be” and “alas poor Yorick”. For every “to thine own self be true”, there’s a “the lady doth protest too much”. It is a lofty tale, that here is told with the common touch and The Hillbark Players have produced a play of which every man, woman and child of them should be justly proud.

An absolute joy from beginning to end and roll on production twenty-seven.
Running Time: 3 hrs  PR RATING: ***** Powerful


Urbanista Review

n the gloriously sunny evening of Sunday 18th June, we attended the press preview night of Hillbark Players’ Hamlet production in the idyllic setting of Royden Park. From Monday 19th June through until Saturday 24th June, the beautiful Wirral park plays host to the theatre group’s huge Shakespeare showcase — having attended on the Sunday, we can confirm that it’s a truly magical experience not to be missed! Over £50,000 (all self funded and non-profit) had been spent on producing the week long extravaganza and the six months of hard work had led up to this point. Hillbark Players is a long standing presenter of open-air Shakespeare in the North West, having been founded in 1964 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, and has presented a production every other year since. We were privileged to experience the theatre group’s first ever production of Hamlet — and we were not disappointed!
With the sun beaming down and the birds singing, we followed the signs through the woods until we discovered the site and the impressive 490 seat theatre. After talking with Director, Nick Sample, and Assistant Director, Ruth Stenhouse, it was soon time to get settled with our Prosecco and strawberries and watch the drama unfold. With this being a three hour performance, we were treated to an edited and arguably more action packed play and the wooded backdrop and sounds of nature provided the perfect setting.
From the off, we were thrust straight into drama with the death of Hamlet’s father and in the true style of Shakespeare theatre, some of the characters entered the theatre from behind the audience — giving us that all encompassing feeling. It was clear money had been spent, with smoke effects and dramatic music from the surrounding speakers. The music throughout was often poignant and powerful, adding to the allure of the live performance.

As the plot unfolded and we were taken through the scenes, one thing remained particularly striking — the calibre of each and every one of the actors. In each case, the delivery was concise and clearly well refined through months of practise. Hillbark Players had offered open auditions for the roles and as such had recruited some of the most experienced acting talent in the North West — that said there were some debuts in live theatre on display, although no-one would have noticed. All actors were deeply involved with their characters and there were some fascinating and entertaining interactions, particularly between Ophelia and her brother and of course the intense and passionate engagements between Ophelia and Hamlet.
The quality of acting throughout was indeed very impressive and it was impossible not to be completely absorbed from start to finish. I was most impressed with Adam Stubbs, who portrayed Hamlet with tireless energy and whose commanding and charming lead performance kept the audience entranced — definitely one to watch for the future. I was also mightily impressed by Charles Riley’s portrayal of Hamlet’s Uncle and new King, Claudius, with a disposition similar to Brian Blessed and the larger than life character of a true King (although Claudius is quite possibly not as warm and likeable as Brian Blessed). Both actors had a phenomenal stage presence — truly captivating.  The interval was timed perfectly, with the second half quickly producing the sequence of deaths and tragedies. The developments with the key characters were captured extremely well and it was fascinating to watch the characters change as the plot thickened. As with the first half, the acting was enthralling, but what made the second half even more entertaining to watch was the lighting and atmosphere. As dusk descended on Royden Park, the lighting effects came into their own and the atmosphere was electric! Shakespeare under the stars on a summer night — a quite unique experience!
As we all know, the Hamlet story progresses into fights and more further deaths, in an engrossing script. I found the fight scene between Hamlet and Ophelia’s brother, Laertes (played superbly by Theo Spofforth), the most entertaining scene of all. The parrying and jousting was mesmerising and the final events that followed were executed in an emphatic manner.
In summary, a fantastic evening of entertainment! The thriving music scene of Liverpool and the North West is documented so well, however much must be said about the quality of our local theatre scene — a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an evening. I think it’s also very important to keep Shakespeare alive and credit is due to Hillbark Players for such a unique production and for bringing Shakespeare into the modern world. There are so many things to do this summer but we highly recommend the huge open air Hamlet production in Royden Park courtesy of Hillbark Players. If you’re reading this before Saturday 24th June 2017, it’s not too late to attend….


Following the production, I caught up with Director, Nick Sample, for a little Q&A:
Urbanista: What has been your favourite production you’ve been involved in as a Director over the years?

Nick: I’ve been fortunate enough to direct a lot of productions, from musicals to dramas, comedies, brilliant modern plays and Shakespeare. I seem to have been involved in some plays several times –The History Boys, which I directed last year at Altrincham’s Garrick Playhouse, having previously appeared in it as Hector twice before, or The Accrington Pals, of which I’ve directed two really memorable, moving productions, stand out.  Nearly all have great memories for me for all sorts of reasons, but I’d have to choose two particular productions that I’ve directed as being tied for both my favourite and most memorable:
Firstly, Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer, which I directed for Bebington Dramatic Society in 2002 – a fantastic play about the decline and death of Mozart. I was fortunate to have a brilliant cast and crew involved in this, led by a truly memorable performance by David Oliver as Salieri. And with Mozart’s music being integral throughout, ending with the sound of his hugely powerful Requiem filling the auditorium – I absolutely loved it.
Secondly, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which I was lucky enough to direct for Hillbark Players in 2009. This was one of those productions where everything that I had wanted to achieve with this play as a director came together brilliantly, from the staging, the wonderfully evocative costumes, the brilliant specially-composed  soundtrack, the tremendous fight scenes, and a superb cast who all came together to create a piece of theatrical magic. I’m still immensely proud of it – as, I believe, are many of the people who were involved.
Urbanista: What is your favourite Shakespeare play and why?
Nick: Well, from my previous answer it would have to be Macbeth. Although I do really like Twelfth Night.
Urbanista: Who is your favourite Hamlet character and why?
Nick: Claudius. I think that Shakespeare’s alleged ‘baddies’ are much more interesting characters – Iago in ‘Othello’, or Shylock in ’The Merchant of Venice’ (although whether he is the ‘baddie’, or just as much a victim as Antonio in that play is debatable) for example – and have a lot more depth than some of his supposed ‘heroes’. Claudius is a great, manipulative character with depth of feeling and motivation, and gives the actor portraying that role an opportunity to create something memorable.
Urbanista: If you could choose 5 actors to star in a Hamlet production, who would they be and what characters would they play?
Nick: Blimey, an impossible question to answer! There are so many… If you included famous actors who are sadly no longer with us but (in their day) would have been superb in certain roles, then you could go on and on – Robin Williams would have made a fantastic Gravedigger, for example. However, by reducing the list to people who are around and working in Britain today – and assuming I had the colossal production budget I’d need to be able to pay what all of these people would want – you couldn’t do much better (in my eyes) than having the following people involved:
I think it’s about time that Sir Kenneth Branagh played Claudius, and I’d pair him up with the quite brilliant Sarah Lancashire as Gertrude. I’d like to see Tom Hughes play Hamlet. He’s a really talented young actor who has previously worked with Matt Baker’s ‘Theatre In The Quarter’ company in Chester, but is probably best known (so far) for being Prince Albert opposite Jenna Coleman in ITV’s ‘Victoria’ last year. I believe Hugh Laurie would make an excellent job of Polonius, as would Ralph Fiennes, who is a superb comic actor (even though he hardly ever gets cast in comic roles)… and, as one of the Gravediggers, I would happily have either James Corden or Peter Kay.
Urbanista: What plans do you have in the next two years until the next Hillbark Players’ production?
Nick: A rest! Getting some sleep!… In terms of Hillbark Players, it really depends upon how this week works out (financially). Our productions cost almost £50,000 to stage, and nearly all of our income to cover that cost comes through ticket and programme sales from the current production. In recent years, we’ve started performing small-scale, bring-a-chair ‘fund-raising’ shows in the grounds of Hillbark Hotel in order to boost our finances, so we may well be doing something along those lines next year.
From a personal standpoint, I’ve been asked by Altrincham Garrick Playhouse to direct their November premiere staging of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”. Like Hillbark Players, they’re another very professionally-run organisation who hold ‘open auditions’ for every production… so if anyone is interested in being Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn or any of the myriad of characters in that play, please get in touch!

Full Cast: David Caldwell, Andy Jordan, Stuart Rathe, Simon Garland, Charles Riley, Dave Bolitho, Martin Riley, Theo Spofforth, Caroline Kay, Adam Stubbs, Pauline Garland, Mike Ellis, Fiona Williams, Jack Hirons, James Dorman, Charlotte Cumming, Keith Hill, Carys Cooper, Daniel Short, Gemma Davidson, Adrian Davies, Geraldine Moloney-Judge, James Kay, Alexander Breathnach, Karen Cumming, Sally Lynam
Produced & Directed by Nick Sample
Assistant Director: Ruth Stenhouse


Nick Buchanan Review

The Hillbark players have been presenting open air Shakespeare for 53 years. I have seen many of their productions and have always found them impressive. This is the first time they have tackled Hamlet and I am pleased to say that they pulled it off admirably. The first thing of note was the set which comprised a tower with a curtained enclosure (with platform) below, and in front of that was a grassy space between audience and set. This was used so creatively and to such great effect that it served every scene.
The director showed great understanding and subtlety in his handling of scenes. Obviously Shakespeare gives us the text, but theatre has to supply the body language and the tone of voice (as well as a thousand other things). When Claudius begins speaking in Act 1, Scene 2, all eyes are on him whilst an incidental servant wordlessly passes cakes on a plate to the gathered court. When she offers Hamlet one, he silently declines (no attention is drawn to this, and it could easily be missed, but it is fitting and serves the play). Hamlet’s emotional state is in stark contrast to that of the rest of the court.
Also in the same scene, Claudius speaks first with Voltimand and Cornelius. When he is finished, Hamlet steps forward to speak, but Claudius halts him with a flat palm gesture and speaks with Laertes instead. This gesture makes it clear that Hamlet is being snubbed by Claudius from the outset. He has not only seized the crown by foul means, but he is determined to demonstrate his authority over his new ‘son.’
Every performance of Shakespeare contains these unwritten parts which only intelligent Theatre can find. It comprises the ‘hidden play’ which breathes between the lines and which has its own life while the lines are being said. Sometimes it is overdone or counter to the text. Here it was sensitive, subtle and in service to the play. In this production, Polonius was played by a woman (Caroline Kay) – played as ‘Polonia.’ She was outstanding, showing us the introspective, deliberating buffoon as someone disconnected from the real affairs and commerce of humankind (despite advising the King). She admirably brought out the comedic dimension to Polonius’s long-windedness without hamming it up or breaking the spell of the tragedy. A wonderful balancing act.
The character of Fortinbras is usually cut from the play, but wisely the director (Nick Sample) chose to keep these lines. The political dimension of the play resonated powerfully (perhaps because of the current political turmoil in the UK with its hung parliament and a precarious government making deals with the DUP).
Hamlet was commendably portrayed by Adam Stubbs – fresh out of university (just like Hamlet). His nuanced portrayal carried us through his characters changing moods with great aplomb. Fiona Williams made her debut for the Hillbark Players with an outstanding Ophelia, bringing out all of her naïve charm and desperate shock at her changing fortunes. Also of note was Charles Riley’s Claudius which was rightly commanding, authoritarian and cunning; and Theo Spofforth’s Laertes – a headstrong youth, rash and even a little cocky, who seeks to control his sister in ways that he himself would find repugnant.
There is a natural crescendo in the arc of this story with tension building through the first four acts. When the final scenes came – with their blessed release of action, a wind had risen in the surrounding forest and the trees around and behind the stage swayed dramatically. Shakespeare oft used natural phenomena to express internal emotions (e.g. the storm in King Lear) – on this night, nature smiled on this production. So too did I. I see Shakespeare as often as I can and go to Stratford every year to see RSC productions – invariably I am disappointed. If I had a choice between the RSC and the Hillbark Players, I would choose the Hillbark Players every time. They have a knack of letting the text breathe, of finding the truth within the play – whereas the RSC all too often is busy following some directors remit (e.g. Hamlet is bi-polar) instead of Shakespeare’s great words.
This humble company has been quietly brilliant for over half a century. I hope that one day they will tackle King Lear and Othello. They are up to the challenge.


Nick Buchanan preview

A local Amateur Dramatic Group have been putting on Shakespeare plays in the open air since 1964. The standard of acting (and direction) is usually superb - indeed I would say that the productions by these 'Hillbark Players' has been consistently better than what is being offered by the RSC. This humble group of very talented actors and directors have been quietly serving Shakespeare thoughtfully and sensitively.
This year they are presenting Hamlet. I am currently working on...




Granty's Inferno - Review 21stth June 2017 – Wirral Globe On-Line

Hot off the stage:
‘Hamlet’ by Hillbark Players at Royden Park

A PIECE of Wirral greenery becomes Denmark (and other parts of pre- Brexit Europe) this week as the Hillbark Players offer their vibrant version of Hamlet at Royden Park in Frankby.
It is not an easy tragedy to trim down from four-plus hours but, at over three hours, director and producer Nick Sample - who also provides excellent set design with Nigel Cooper - should be very happy with the open-air production that features some outstanding performances from the 30-strong company. Hillbark are renowned for their enjoyable, accessible treatment of Shakespeare plays. A reputation that has grown solidly since 1964.
Adam Stubbs is the young prince Hamlet and clearly relishes the challenge. He rises to it very well and the great speeches are delivered with a fresh, youthful and energetic approach.
How many people have picked up that jester's skull and put their own mark on the Bard’s words.
Adam's diction is crystal clear. This production, set in Medieval times and in eye-catching costumes, opens with the funeral of King Hamlet. It is a striking image as the trees sway mildly in the background overlooking Elsinore Castle. Theatre in the woods has never been more attractive.
Atmospheric music and subtle lighting all add to the experience in relating this complex yet timeless tale of love, deceit, madness and Hamlet's self-examination on the futility of life.
It's always fun hearing some of Shakespeare's greatest quips.

It makes you realise just how much impact the Bard has on our language.
There are some stand-out performances Charles Riley as regal rogue Claudius; Stuart Rathe as hearty Horatio and Theo Spofforth's measured Laertes. Fine scenes, too, from the gravediggers Andy Jordan and Geraldine Moloney–Judge. Nice touch too from director Nick in is making Polonius – Polonia (Caroline Kay) and Rozencrantz's mate Guildenstern is now a female.
The cast is a mix of new players alongside some who have returned to the Hillbark family after an absence of several years. Well done to Dan Meigh's fight sequences.
The Hillbark Players are living and acting out the real theatrical tradition of Shakespeare.
There, indeed, is the rub. "Players well bestowed"
Four stars The show is on until this Saturday, June 24.


peter grant Preview

Granty's Inferno - Preview 14th June 2017 – Wirral Globe
GREAT Danes!
The current popularity of TV and big screen dramas from Scandinavia is literally having an effect on one Wirral-based theatre company. Hamlet will be performed "under cover" by the Hillbark Players from Monday at Royden Park in Frankby for five days. Forsooth, this clever company has been bringing the Bard alive by staging it in the park since 1964. The Hillbarkers are calling their latest Hamlet: "William Shakespeare’s greatest play – the original (and best) Scandi-Noir drama". 
The story of the damaged Danish prince serves up rich pickings for today's political speech writers. As these apt quotes, written 400 years ago, show.
How's this for a warning to us in the media: "Madness in great ones must not unwatched go". 


eMails / Facebook / Twitter comments

To whom it may concern
I was at attendance at your production on Tuesday and I am very glad to say that I was utterly amazed by the way that everyone performed this Shakespeare production. The cast were utterly amazing and I would like to give my thanks.

Hopefully next time you do a production there will be a young male part for me to audition for because I would love to be a part of an outdoor Shakespeare production.

Yours Sincerely
xxxxxx  St Edwards' College


We are simply writing to say how much we very much enjoyed your production of Hamlet this year.  All the cast were great, and, the actor who portrayed Hamlet was just excellent.

We felt the production lost nothing in being slightly adapted for a shorter version.

Kind regards,
Phil and Carol Roberts =


Hi Mike,
Thanks for your reply and – just to let you know – we went to watch you last night and it was brilliant. I love Hamlet anyway but my partner has (unbelievably) never seen a Shakespeare play before and really enjoyed it too.
Thank you    Julia
Dear Nick

I will catch up with you later in the week when I am on FOH duty but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the play last night. I send my hearty congratulations to you, the cast and all the technical team. From an audience member’s perspective things appeared to go very well. The action moved on seamlessly. It presented as being very slick and professional. Well done to everyone involved!

It is invidious to single out performers but Adam gave an excellent performance. His diction and articulation was second to none! It was my first experience of watching a production of Hamlet and 3 hours in I can honestly say that my attention was never allowed to lapse! What is more I was able to follow the plot, an achievement indeed! Break a leg tonight. I am sure that you have a winner on your hands.

Kind regards   Michael Kennedy


GRC Accountants Limited
We would like to say a massive congratulations to the Hillbark Players for putting on a fantastic performance of Hamlet in Royden Park again this year.
Even if you're not usually a Shakespeare fan, this captivating event is definitely worth a visit. Each and every performer and backstage assistant work so hard to pull off this magical event, we're delighted to have been involved as sponsor and have played our own (small) part!
With stand out performances from Charles Riley..., Adam Stubbs and Theo Spofforth if you haven't bought your tickets yet, there's still time as shows continue tonight, Friday & Saturday evening and a Saturday matinee.
Exciting times for GRC this week as we sponsor the Hillbark Players open-air production of Hamlet. We couldn't have picked a better week weather wise and the performances so far have received rave reviews! Set in a purpose-built 490-seat theatre created in Royden Park, Frankby, the productions have been running since 1964! We're not only sponsoring this year's event but Gareth is also kept busy as Stage Manager, taking over from his Dad, Nigel - (a tough act to follow) as he... was Stage Manager for over 27 years until he handed over the role to Gareth in 2015

Richard Allan
Exceptionally well organised and polished event. Refreshments are reasonably priced. Staff and guides are friendly. Stands are undercover so rain is not an issue for spectators and would probably add an edge to the play anyway (dry on our night). The play itself is superb. This is only a few minutes away from us so I decided we should give it a go and swing by for a mooch. I was thinking Hamlet might be a bit high brow for me but I really enjoyed the story and the acting was amazing! Open air plays are fun!! Massive thanks to everyone involved for putting on a great show! See you next time!!


William O'Neill
Just seen Hamlet. Congratulations to the whole company. Possibly wrong to single people out, but special mention for Adam; you were excellent. Also Nick for developing his idea into a great final production. Enjoy this last show tonight. And special love to Charles. Great to see you back on stage again. Very well done

‎Marie Williams‎
To all those involved in this week's amazing production of Hamlet with Hillbark. During a staff meeting tonight, we were joined by members of staff from a school that had literally just returned from a school trip, to see this afternoon's performance. It was quite a challenge for the children to sit for such a long period, in the heat. ( and for some, after eating lots of sweets and fizzy drinks!!) However the staff said, if it hadn't been for the superb performances, most kids would have really struggled. They were very complimentary and one commented " hats off to the cast for keeping the children so engaged!!!"

Rob Poston
Just got back from watching the preview of Hillbark's Hamlet. If you're free one night this week, go and see it at Royden Park. It's excellent and worth every penny of your hard earned cash!! Huge well done to everyone involved. Sorry I didn't stick around, let's just say i was regretting the shorts and sandals by the end...

I saw it on Friday. I thought it was one of the best Hillbark productions I have seen. Really strong cast. They managed to keep the audience engaged through a very long show. Pity there weren't more people to see it. They missed a cracking production. Well done to all involved, a brilliant sparkling and well directed production – David Tolcher

Well done Nick for your excellent production of Hamlet. We saw tonight's performance and were really impressed and entertained. Some wonderful performances (even from Yorick) and an all round superb show. – Betty Oliver
David Oliver I echo that Nick, well done. Worth all the hard work!

What a truly magnificent production. I was totally exhausted and was near tears by the end. Be proud, immensely proud. – Tessa Williams

So good to see the tragedies put on at Hillbark. Really effective production and terrific acting – Helen Ash

It was an excellent performance, brilliantly directed, clever set and some amazing acting throughout the whole play. Loved it! – Liz Gould

Well, very lucky to have had a bit of a theatre marathon this last week. 4 fab shows in 7 days, but got to say saved the best ‘til last! The Hillbark Players production of Hamlet in Royden Park, is as good, in fact better than, any of the professional shows I saw. Amateur Dramatics?! No way!! What an amazing, atmospheric, tense production, if you haven’t already bought tickets, buy some now! – Terri McBride (on facebook).

Congratulations Nick on a wonderful production at Hillbark. I was particularly impressed with Adam Stubbs as Hamlet. I understood more from this production than I did the first time I saw it on TV, so you must be congratulated on that. Is there any chance that Hillbark would consider microphones?  I was sitting on the back row in main stand (Stand B) and my hearing might not be as good as it was, but as soon as certain people turned to the side stands or the back wall, every word was lost. This is my only niggle on what was a wonderful production (Although volume is more than a niggle). Well done that man! – Helen Belcham

Congratulations. What a great production tonight. You are so good at bringing out the best in people. Hamlet is a magnificent show. I loved the grave digging sketch. Wonderful black humour. Thanks for a wonderful evening’s entertainment. A triumph yet again! – Sheila Davies.

Brilliant last night – we all thoroughly enjoyed it; fantastic! – Ian Marshall

Jane Godman‏ @JaneGodman
Excellent performance (as always) last night by @HillbarkPlayers

Adam Valentine‏ @AdamValentine
Really enjoyed Hamlet by HillbarkPlayers in Royden Park last night. Will be back for the next one in 2019.

Andy Lawler‏ @LAW13R
Fabulous production ofHamlet by @HillbarkPlayers in Royden Park last night. Well done to everyone involved.

Simon Eardley‏ @simonjveardley
A fabulous performance ofHamlet by the @HillbarkPlayers last night in the atmospheric surroundings of Royden Park with some great friends!

Debbie TD‏ @Debbie_Torus
@HillbarkPlayers ..all kicking off in Hamlet this afternoon! #shakespeareinthepark

Jane Godman‏ @JaneGodman
Hope the weather stays like this for @HillbarkPlayers performance of Hamlet tonight

Debbie TD‏ @Debbie_Torus
Great performance by @HillbarkPlayers of #hamlet this afternoon! #shakespeareinthepark well done all

Barbara Gleave‏ @ChouetteWirral
Fantastic performance of Hamlet by @HillbarkPlayers A few remaining tickets for tonight.

Great production of Hamlet by @HillbarkPlayers in Royden Park this afternoon... a few tickets left for tonight!

St Bridget's Year 6‏ @StBridgetsYear6 Jun 21
Year 6 loving our day out to Royden Park and experience Hamlet in the open air. @HillbarkPlayers

ChesterCostumeHouse‏ @ChesterCostume
@HillbarkPlayers Hamlet runs until Sat24/6 @ChesterCostume was delighted to provide all costume

Hillbark Players‏ @HillbarkPlayers
Lovely to welcome @WestKirbyGS @StBridgetsCofE and OLOP Juniors on site for our schools perf today




Audition posters


The Funeral of King Hamlet The death of Polonia
Hamlet, Ophelia, Laertes, Polonia, Claudius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Claudius, Fortinbras, Ophelia goes mad
Hamlet meets the Ghost of his father The Gravediggers
The Players The Burial of Ophelia
'The Mousetrap' Hamlet and Laertes fight
Promotional Photographs The set
Banners, Posters and Displays The Arena and Backstage facilities-1
Sponsorship Brochure The Arena and Backstage facilities-2
  Preparing the site
Rehearsals - On site The full Company
Rehearsals - Frankby  
Video clip - The Ghost of Hamlet's father  
Video clip - The Mouse Trap  
Video clip - The Gravediggers


Photographs from Helena Parker Photography




                                          We turn this area of Royden Park into our 'Theatre in the Woods'


                                          See Hillbark Players arena - from the air