The Ballad of Lady Bessy

This new play is a very different perspective on some of the characters of Shakespeare’s Richard III and the 2013 BBC drama The White Queen. The central character Bessy is Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV and the wife of Henry VII. History sees her as a dynastic pawn who accepted her role with meekness, but there is one source that paints a very different picture – The Ballad of Lady Bessy. In this ballad, Bessy is an intelligent, resourceful and ambitious young woman who plays a significant role in Henry Tudor’s seizure of the crown. The play reflects on the role of women in the turbulent world of usurpation, Princes in the Tower, and the establishment of the Tudor dynasty, and the effect that such events have on their personal relationships.

This performance will be in the Douglas Ford Studio

Stars are Rising with Joanna Forest

We are so excited to welcome Official Number One Bestselling Soprano, Joanna Forest, to The Loft Theatre. Joanna, who has performed to millions on the BBC, ITV, Sky and Classic FM at events such as The Royal Variety Performance, is taking her album on a tour of LTG theatres this Autumn.

Described as one of the most exciting and important Sopranos performing today, she made chart history earlier this year when her debut album, Stars Are Rising, entered the Official Classical Charts at Number 1, knocking Alfie Boe off the top, making her the first independent artist to get to number one with a debut. Produced and orchestrated by world renowned pianist, Robert Emery, it was applauded by the National Press, Radio and TV for its eclectic mix of dramatic arias, cinematic classics and crossover versions of popular gems such as Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ and Slade’s ‘How Does It Feel?’.

Joanna, who made her West End Debut at just 13, will be performing the album and many other popular classical and musical hits in an evening not to be missed!

The Cherry Orchard

There is no question about it: Cherry Orchard is exactly as Chekhov described it, a comedy with moments of pure farce. Madame Ranevskya`s estate is bankrupt. To meet their debts the family house and its famous cherry orchard must be sold. The family finds this an absurd idea and cannot accept that the world is changing. To tell a story with infinite compassion of people hopelessly incapable of dealing with realty, and in a comedic way, and laced with sadness, is the stuff of genius. Chekhov`s characters are delightful, vigorous, absurd people, loveable in their blindness.

Because it first saw life in Russia in 1904, to see the play as prescient of events that followed in Russia is to diminish the depth and wonder of this masterpiece, that in its profound understanding of human nature is limitless as to time and place, as its ever presence on a stage somewhere in the world testifies.

At the end we may say `you are fools` as we see this household lightly embark on a future believing that tomorrow will be different, because we know that life will defeat them.


“A totality of commitment to the Pinteresque cause”

OLD TIMES Loft Theatre, Leamington, until Saturday (June 10)

Reviewer: Peter McGarry

In Pinter-land people talk around in circles, thoughts are left unfinished and the atmosphere is charged with vibes of surreality.

For some 60 years the works of Harold Pinter have been hailed as a fourth dimension of literary theatre. Or, in some quarters, dismissed as pretentious claptrap. Whichever way you veer, they are a force to be reckoned with in terms of production and performance, and the list of theatrical giants who have taken them on is formidable, to say the least.

Photographer: Richard Smith


What is immediately clear from director William Wilkinson’s new revival of this 1971 piece is a totality of commitment to the Pinteresque cause. As a threehander, it focuses on the interweaving relationship between a man and wife and a woman friend from the past, and the potencies and distortions of memory.

The writer leans on sexual imagery and eroticism to suggest the innermost dilemmas of his characters. He doesn’t provide answers – Pinter never does – and revelation is denied in much the same way that Beckett left us waiting for Godot.

However you choose to view this form of theatricality, it puts tremendous pressure on the actors. Here, under Wilkinson’s astute design and direction, they respond with remarkable alacrity to the challenge. Rod Wilkinson’s Deeley taunts, whines and sometimes growls his frustration in a fine portrayal of a man caught in a whirlpool of emotions involving his wife and his lust for her friend.

Again in a recurring Pinter theme, he is the male constantly out-manoeuvred by the females of the species as they hint of a union of their own. Lorna Middleton displays these complexities in the wife with a quietly haunting subtlety. Mary MacDonald, an actress always at her best with forceful drama, is slightly less at ease with the Pinter mood and measured wordplay but nonetheless delivers a sound portrayal of the visiting Anna.

The production, originally scheduled for the smaller space of the Loft studio, has transferred well to the main stage in terms of overall design and will score highly with the Pinter faithful.