After premiering at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford – Upon – Avon, Helen Edmundson’s play about the monarch’s transition into a Queen has landed at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Written in a contemporary voice, the play stars Emma Cunniffe as Queen Anne and Romola Garai as Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough as Anne’s close friend and confidant. The play touches on themes involving whether personal relationships should suffer because of those allegiances in a position of power. I had no idea what to expect when I entered the auditorium and left enjoying an extremely well performed play about a period of British history that I didn’t know much about.
The cast is led by two excellent actresses in Emma Cunniffe and Romola Garai. Both actresses bring such depth and love into the friendship between the two characters, that it is often implied that their connection has always been at a much deeper level. They lead a wonderfully excellent and diverse ensemble. It’s refreshing to see a play about people in a period of time in Britain that isn’t performed by an all-white cast. It’s just not reflective of British society if the cast is all one default-like race. There is outstanding support from Beth Park as Abigail Hill, a relative of Sarah’s who grows closer to the Queen, and Chu Omambala as John, Duke of Marlborough.
The production also features a beautiful set and stunning costumes designed by Hannah Clark. There are also some musical interludes throughout the play, seemingly for comic relief, which I wasn’t expecting, as they were tales often performed by drunk peasant characters who were taking the piss out of the queen. The interludes managed to balance out the intensity of the conflict that was happening in the Commons.
I booked a ticket for this show on a whim and I’m glad I did. Natalie Abrahami’s production has some fantastic performances and showcases a part of royal family history that isn’t as mainstream as other royals. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Queen Anne is running at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 30th September. For tickets and more information please visit https://www.rscqueenanne.com/
Until next time,