How would Shakespeare write during Covid times? Well technically he kind of did if we consider the plague and the era of The Black Death. And in fact wrote two of his most highly regarded. We’ve all as writers felt a little unsettled, unproductive, displaced over the last fifteen months or so, and this is a humorous and yet moving play which addresses this along with Shakespeare’s relentless back catalogue. A project created by Will & Co the Bard in the Yard is across the country with a variety of Bards for a variety of audiences, and for the afternoon we were regaled by Caroline Mathison.

Will & Co is a theatre company creating shows and workshops around the life, times and works of William Shakespeare. They are based in London and tour internationally, and are by led Artistic Director Victoria Gartner. Bard in The Yard is a project launched as a response to the closure of theatres due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Spring 2020. They wanted to reconnect audiences with the joys of live theatre while waiting for our beloved institutions to reopen properly. Personally I would say they did a wonderful job, reminding me of the pleasure gained from a theatre trip or two.

Caroline Mathison as noted above was our Bard for the hour or so in which we were in her company. She came in to the private garden of Rutland Square all out of breath and flustered, running late, and also sheepishly admitting that writing has not been easy as of late, requesting the help and assistance of three volunteers to build on soliloquys and dialogue on this distinct play that the Bard was working on. Incorporating witches, Scotland and a leading lady role within this play and the character Duncan it doesn’t take a literary expert to work out which of the Shakespearian plays being referred to here. However, there is a different take to this Macbeth, somewhat tongue in cheek, with the modern day pop culture references combined with the times of the plague, such as “I got 99 problems but the witch ain’t one.” It also moves to a more emotive point as the Bard considers Edmund in all of this, Shakespeare’s brother whose death was attributed to the bubonic plague, and it too has touching moments.

All in all, this was a wonderful re-introduction to theatre, in the somewhat balmy setting of Rutland Square’s private garden. An affecting performance with an element of interaction and enough substance to move you to giggles or more teary-eyed moments. A joy!

For more information on the Bard in the Yard click here