Now is the Winter
Alarum Theatre Company
I have a confession to make; I've never seen Richard III. I don't know how it happened but it has, which has left me in the odd situation of having to review a play commenting on another play.
It's with much credit to both Kate Saffin's script and Helen McGregor's fine performance that the play made as much sense to me as it does. Bizarrely, the show's accompanying programme felt the need for a lengthy explanation of what happens in the play and yet never troubles itself to give even a summary of the events from Richard III, a fairly glaring omission from a piece that relies so heavily on the audience knowing what's going on.
Now is the Winter shows us that not everyone hated Richard III, especially not his loyal scullery maid Bess, who, after quoting the famous opening speech, goes on to recount in full Shakespearian prose the virtues of her master and what the political shenanigans mean to those below stairs. The play continues scene after scene, to lead us through the entirety of Richard III while Bess prepares various vegetables and refreshments for her master.
It's a nice twist on the conceit laid out by plays such as Rosencrantz & Guildernstern Are Dead and deserves to be seen by all discerning fans of the Bard.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan