Commissioned by First Art. In association with Derby LIVE


A new play by Kevin Fegan

Guildhall Theatre

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Thu 28 Sep - Sun 1 Oct

Tickets: £13.75 More price information

Running Time: 2 hours 20 minutes - approximate, including any interval(s).

Most tickets cost more when booked via telephone or in person at box office. See our Ts & Cs for details.

About the event

Bess takes centre stage in this one-woman show mixing theatre with film.

Surprisingly, this is the first drama to capture this extraordinary woman and her extraordinary times.

During a life of over 80 years, Bess rose from being a Derbyshire farmer’s daughter with 400 acres to become Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury with 400,000 acres. The life and times of Bess of Hardwick is in every way an epic life-telling.

Midst all this she would marry four times, become a Lady-in-Waiting and confidante of Queen Elizabeth 1st – “jailor” to Mary Queen of Scots, even spend time herself in The Tower of London and become the founding mother of the Cavendish dynasty, the Dukes of Devonshire.

Three of the most iconic women of the age: Elizabeth Tudor Queen of England, Mary Stuart Queen of Scots and Bess Hardwick – The Commoner Queen embroidered into the same tapestry - when all about them were men.

Over 400 years later the Bess legacy lives on today through the country’s most titled and wealthiest families notably via the Cavendish-Bentinck line to Queen Elizabeth II.

Playwright: Kevin Fegan
Director: Rikki Tarascas
Filmmaker: Will Simpson
Bess: Michelle Todd

A return for playwright Kevin Fegan whose last work at The Guildhall, "Slave", won the Pete Postlethwaite Best New Play Manchester Theatre Awards.

BSL Interpreted performances

The following performance is BSL Sign-Interpreted performance: Sun 1 Oct, 2.30pm

The traditional setup of sign-interpreted performances keeps interpreters off to one side of the stage and means that audience members who are hard of hearing, have to choose whether to watch the action on stage or the professional interpreter on the side.

Dates & Tickets


Thu 28 Sep 2017, 7:30pm


Fri 29 Sep 2017, 7:30pm


Sat 30 Sep 2017, 1pm


Cream Tea matinee

Sat 30 Sep 2017, 6pm


Sun 1 Oct 2017, 2:30pm


BSL signed performance Cream Tea matinee

Prices & Offers


Concessions: £11.75

Concessions are typically available to over 60s, under 16s, students, unemployed and disabled people. Click through to Buy Tickets for individual prices and availability. Please note that proof may be required on collection of tickets or on entry to the auditorium.


"Forty years at the National Theatre . Executive on "War Horse", seen by over 7 million worldwide. Daniel Hagman in the "Sharpe" tv series. Honorary Doctor of the University of Derby." John Tams