In The Presence of Greatness.

I, Elizabeth

Walker Theatre

Wednesday 15th June.

There are so many times one sees the Royals going about their royal business, a wave, a smile and a handshake and it is difficult if not impossible, to really see what they are thinking or worrying about behind closed doors.

Tonight theatre goers were treated to a fascinating look inside the rather tortured mind of one of the most celebrated royals in the history of our monarchy. The  Tudor Queen,  Elizabeth the first. 

The script was compiled from her random notes and thoughts and the delivery came by the way of one of the most talented actresses that has occupied the Walker space for quite some time.

The actress is Rebecca Vaughan from the Dyad production company. Not only did Ms. Vaughan totally immerse herself into character she took an engaged audience with her. Her immersion was quite remarkable right through to the very tips of her fingers the Queen was here and she had something to tell us.

When it came down to her thoughts, they seemed not so very different from thoughts that one in her position might even have today. She was worried about her successor, she commented on politics, religion, heirs and the lack of them.

 Using Elizabeth’s own words was not only a stroke of genius and a gargantuan research task, they were also highly enlightening, witty and perceptive. This, " Virgin Queen," with the leaded white  face was indeed a very scholarly lady with her finger on the pulse of a medieval world. The delightful factor is that with such a powerful performer one could not help but be transfixed.

The show is a delightful and insightful view of our own history. When one strips wallpaper off an old wall one is always intrigued at what may be beneath. Looking into the personal thoughts of such an iconic Queen was rather akin to that analogy. .

 How could England bestow so much power on a mere mortal? It seems they expected God to make the decisions of government on a day to day basis and then the next in order of peck would be the monarch who would deliver his wishes.  The stresses of that expectation weighed heavy  on the Queen and she wrestled with the whole question of expectations. Who ever thought religion could cause so many problems?

Rebecca Vaughan’s portrayal is so beautifully crafted. She presented a  slightly melancholic Queen with a general air of distrust and anger for her fellow royals and  naturally, her governments. But each emotion, doubt or thought was delivered so enchantingly as she peeled back the veneer and presented a rather vulnerable and paradoxically extremely strong willed queen.

Directed by Guy Masterson, this show was a tour de force for him. It is always a delight to witness such subtle direction. Whilst Rebecca Vaughan brought us an impressively observed character, the delicate traces of a highly competent director’s hand worked quietly in the background. All contributing to bring to the audience  a powerful performance and an exquisite show.

Another beauty of this show is its portability. All it took was a chequered floor lay three long drapes and a Queen Anne chair and table and that was about it. It needed no more. Anything else in that space would have been clutter and would have offered no other purpose than to get in the way. Instead the words and their enchanting delivery was all that was necessary for this show to work.

Queen Elizabeth the first had such a great responsibility and so did Rebecca Vaughan. It was a mighty responsibility that she undertook, so many actresses could have tried and so many would have failed. However tonight there was an air of regality in the theatre and for seventy five compelling minutes  that air was so beautifully maintained by this incredibly skilful company.

This is a four star review.

Owen J.Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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