So saith Lord Stanley to Richmond as he handed over the crown plucked from the brow of the dead King Richard on the Battlefield of Bosworth. This can only mean one thing and, yes, indeed, Northern Broadsides are back in town.
As we took our seats* the actors wandered on to the stage and began playing jazz, I’m always amazed by the many talents of the actors who make up this company and was to be even more amazed later on by an additional talent I’d not yet seen. Just before the lights went down I spotted the gangling, ungainly figure in black at the top of the stairs – here was Richard. Played wonderfully well by Conrad Nelson this Richard weaved and cajoled and simpered and struggled his evil way to the throne.** A throne he soon lost on Bosworth Field where White Surrey was replaced by a barrow and the battle was won accompanied by the wild clashing of drums, the swirling of banners and clog dancing. I did wonder why all the soldiers were carrying a spare pair of shoes over their shoulders and at the start of the fight instead of armour they donned clogs and danced their way onto the battlefield, the noise of their feet getting louder and louder as the bitter struggle drew to its inevitable conclusion. After the battle there followed a wonderful choral display as The Earl of Richmond accepted his challenge. I love Northern Broadsides.
*my seat was against the main entrance and exit for the company and right by the ‘butt of malmsey’ so I heard the gurgles and saw the struggles in great detail.
** Of course, as much as I love Shakespeare, as a Yorkist I don’t believe Richard was either as evil or as deformed as Will portrayed him, but if I had lived in Tudor England I think I would have done the same.