I, Elizabeth

Rebecca Vaughan gives a powerful performance as Queen Elizabeth I in I, Elizabeth. Drawn only from her own words, letters and surviving primary sources, the play (also written by Vaughan) gives a fascinating insight into one of our most famous historical figures.

This version of Elizabeth is certainly idealised, but the character of a woman full of fortitude and self-sacrificial love for her people is somewhat inspiring.

For anybody unfamiliar with the story of Elizabeth, this production is an intriguing and accessible introduction. For those who already know about her, it is a thought-provoking chance to contemplate her life from an emotional perspective. Whilst giving a vague outline of the events surrounding her rise to power, the show doesn’t worry too much about dates and dry facts. Rather it is a psychological study, an imagined character informed by historical material, and these factual weaknesses do not hold it back too much.

The staging and lighting are first class: simple, dramatic and appropriate. Nodding to a regal court, red banners flow from the ceiling and the floor is chequered. Dressed in a succulent plum and gold dress, embroidered with jewels, red wig and death-white makeup ,Vaughan is every inch the iconic Queen. But she is all alone. The only people in the room are the audience and she speaks directly to us, as if we are her subjects.

Vaughan’s script intelligently contemplates the immense pressures facing Elizabeth, revealing the vast extent of her achievements. Through a theatrical, occasionally overdone, performance Vaughan presents a woman who must stand alone in a world full of men who want to control her, in order to maintain her independence. This version of Elizabeth is certainly idealised, but the character of a woman full of fortitude and self-sacrificial love for her people is somewhat inspiring.  

Reviews by Lettie Mckie

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

1568: at a vital crossroads in history, a young queen steps from the shadows to confess her thoughts on marriage, succession, religion and war. But time is against her. Using only Elizabeth's words, the much loved 2010 hit returns to Assembly for a limited run. Its political parallels acutely relevant, this critically acclaimed production explores the eternal tension between desire and duty, to reveal the woman beneath the crown. From Dyad Productions (Dalloway, Austen's Women, Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe, Female Gothic). Adapted and performed by Rebecca Vaughan (Dalloway, Austen's Women). Directed by Olivier Award winner Guy Masterson.