Bard in the Yard: The Scottish Play at the Actors’ Church
In the shadow of the Actors’ Church in Covent Garden, William Shakespeare sits, moving his quill frantically, from time to time raising his chin and checking the surroundings. A few minutes after the clock tolls the hour, he introduces himself with a joke – or at least that is the intention. The pun doesn’t really land, a consequence of the writer’s block the Bard has run into. He’s due to deliver a play commissioned by the king, and his head is at stake – a monologue is ready, but only that. The playwright asks the audience to help him find and place all the other elements in a story that can become another great success, despite his challenges.
So the show, The Scottish Play (part of the Iris Summer Festival, organised in the charming and tranquil church gardens) begins. The production is part of a series by Bard in the Yard, a project started by theatre company Will and Co during the pandemic. And it does exactly what it says on the tin: a Bard performs in the yard. The initiative has already proved a success, with the artists visiting private gardens around the country. With the gradual reopening of public spaces, they are now touring in the outdoor areas of smaller venues such as this.
The one-hour show is a rollercoaster of comedy, drama, famous soliloquies, interaction with the public, thoughtful considerations, samples of singing and a spot of dancing. There are lines about the Plague and quarantine that are fitting, both as memories of the past and descriptions of today. Exchanges with the spectators – without breaking any social distancing rules – are not too intrusive but add a lively element. The fluidity between the different sections is enjoyable, despite, at times, the completely different registers they belong to.
Although there are open chinks for improvisation here and there, the script at the base is strong. It results in a wonderful mix of gossip, curiosities and excerpts of plays, everything marvellously executed by the “Bard”, Luke Farrugia. The actor’s performance is passionate and lively, complemented by his entertaining stage presence. For the audience, a fair knowledge of Shakespeare and his works will help with grasping all the allusions and the development of the piece, but it’s not a requirement in order to appreciate the production. Actually, this is a fun opportunity to learn.
The Scottish Play is a fresh and zestful work to catch whilst it’s on tour – or to book and delight a small gathering of family or friends.
Bard in the Yard: The Scottish Play is at Iris Theatre, St Paul’s Church on 4th July 2021 and is possible to book for future events. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the Bard in the Yard tour here: