Young Director's award winner Anna Farthing is ill advised to bracket her action with period musical snippets, but instils the requisite jitteriness as Queen Bess gets paranoid about Shakespeare whilst ignoring the coup preparations of her lover Essex. Alexandra Mathie's edgy Elizabeth loses some of the scripted gags, but gains as many more chuckles through her manner. Pete Holdway's astounding Dame Grosslady is the Welsh bastard offspring of Professor Stanley Unwin and Salvatore from The Name Of The Rose, and Elizabeth's own finale is a dizzying collage of Shakespearean and political references across the ages.
As with most English Fo adaptations, we lose the immediate allegorical significance (here, the Aldo Moro resonance is obligingly spelt out), and there are occasional directorial lapses (a sloppy stabbing in Act Two needs at least a little blood), but it careers along merrily. Oi'll give it foive.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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