I’m hoping that my ability to sail a boat will be significantly better than my ability to drive a car,” writes actor Rachel Benson in her programme biography.

“I failed my driving test a sad number of times,” she laughs when we meet up. “It was just small things: in one of my tests I was going down a road and I couldn’t remember which side I was meant to be on.”

Boat sailing skills are now vital because Rachel joins fellow actors Christopher Arkeston, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Robin and Joshua Considine on this year’s Mikron Theatre tour, and that involves much time spent steering the company’s narrowboat Tyseley.

“Our artistic director Marianne is very good at educating us,” Rachel adds, “You’ve got to pass on the right on this kind of bend, you’ve got to look out for the coloured buoys on rivers, and so on. We’ve been well taught.”

Christopher is in his second year with Mikron, but the other three actors are new to the company. Lizzie was selected last year but – every actor’s nightmare – was taken ill and had to drop out at the last minute.

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“We were rehearsing Get Well Soon, which is about the NHS, and I ended up having to spend a lot of time in the NHS!” she explains. “It was the ultimate irony. We’d done two weeks of rehearsals and had really started to get the show together. It was heartbreaking to have to pull out, but it’s amazing to be able to come back.”

Over the next three weeks Mikron will alternate two shows at venues across Oxfordshire. First comes All Hands on Deck, a tale of two Wrens who are looking for adventure during the Second World War. As the people and feelings portrayed now date back several generations, I ask the Mikron actors if they are finding it difficult to relate to the characters they are playing.

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“We’ve done lots of research,” says Lizzie. “We were lucky enough to go to the Western Approaches museum in Liverpool, we got to see the big plotting room with all its charts and equipment. It really immersed me in that world.”

“I’m lucky that I still know people who were around at the time,” Josh adds. “So they’ve certainly influenced the way I play my characters.”

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The second show is Redcoats, an 80-year trawl through the history of Butlins holiday camps. Given that many famous actors and comedians started their careers at Butlins, there’s much laughter from the Mikron cast when I ask: how would you all have got on as Redcoats? For instance, running the famous knobbly knees competition?

“I’m not sure, my knees aren’t very knobbly!!” Lizzie says. “But I think Butlins gave you wonderful training in doing lots of shows all the time: you’d be constantly performing different things.”

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Talking of different things, Mikron is playing an entirely new kind of date during their Oxfordshire visit. On 9 August the company presents Redcoats at a British Naturism event at the Toad Gin Distillery in Headington.

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“It was the first thing we asked: are we in the nude?” Christopher says as he answers my inevitable question. “And when they said ‘no’, there was some sense of relief. There was talk, if we had to do the show in the nude,” Rachel adds, “How could we use our musical instruments to hide certain bits? For instance, I play a tin whistle, which could have been difficult, but Josh plays a cello so that would have been fine. But seriously, it’s going to be brilliant bringing the show to a new community.”

What's on where... and when?

  • Friday, August 2,7.30pm AHD: Eynsham Cricket Club,
  • Tuesday, Aug 6, 7.30pm Redcoats: Plough Inn, Wolvercote
  • Thursday, Aug 8, 7.30pm AHD: Boat Inn, Thrupp, Kidlington
  • Friday, Aug 9 7.30pm Redcoats: Toad Gin Distillery, South Park, Cheney Lane, Oxford. Tickets £15 bn.org.uk
  • (This is a British Naturism event – all audience members will be undressed)
  • Saturday, Aug 10, 7pm Redcoats: The Pig Place, Aynho Road, Adderbury, Banbury
  • Tuesday, Aug 13, 7.30pm AHD: Wharf House, Cropredy. Tickets £13 (£11 Concs.) Tel: 01295 750633
  • Wednesday, Aug 14, 7.30pm Redcoats: Wharf House, Cropredy. Tickets £13 (£11 Concs). Tel: 01295 750633