THE LOFT Theatre in Leamington may be closed but it is still offering theatre-goers something to take their minds of the crisis.
The company has made available an audio recording of its 2017 production of The Ballad of Lady Bessy online.
The Ballad of Lady Bessy was premiered in the Studio Theatre. It was written by company chairman David Fletcher, who worked in theatre administration, notably as finance director at the RSC in Stratford.
Lady Bessy is set in the turbulent world of the Princes in the Tower, the defeat of Richard III, and the precarious beginning of the Tudor dynasty.
At the centre of the play is a fearless and intelligent young woman who quickly learns the ways of her dangerous world.
Bessy is Elizabeth of York who holds a unique place in the royal history of England – she was the daughter of Edward IV, the sister of Edward V, the niece of Richard III, the wife of Henry VII, the mother of Henry VIII, and the grandmother of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I.
She is usually seen as a quiet pawn in the dynastic struggles of the period, but there is one historical source that paints a very different picture.
This play shows Bessy as an outstandingly intelligent and resourceful woman who keeps her cool whilst those around her are losing their heads – metaphorically and literally.
As the play progresses, she begins to shape events, despite the unspeakable challenges that hurtle towards her. But this is not a play about just one woman battling alone in a man’s world.
There are two other ambitious women who feature in this story – Elizabeth Woodville (Bessy’s mother) and Margaret Beaufort (Henry VII’s mother). The conflicts between the women are as sharp as the struggles with the men in their lives.
This is a play about power – between people as much as in politics – and about the way in which women could exercise power in a world where they were expected to remain silent. It is also a very human story full of excitement, tragedy, love, and reconciliation.
The play can be accessed by visiting lofttheatrecompany.com/the-ballad-of-lady-bessy-free-audio-play/ where the programme and photographs of the production may also be viewed.