Lady Shakespeare

This one-woman show by playwright Lois Blanco involves Spanish actress Paula Blanco alternately playing William Shakespeare, a range of Shakespeare’s individual female characters and Queen Elizabeth I, exploring issues surrounding womanhood and femininity in Elizabethan England and within the Bard’s plays.

Lady Shakespeare is theatre at its most challenging.

The results are often very disturbing, with a complexity that is often extremely hard to follow. Programmes are for purchase only after the show, and without a clear knowledge of the plays, what to expect and an awareness of how it is structured, Lady Shakespeare may be one of the most confusing and frustrating performances you will see at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. Distinction between characters, meanwhile, is often difficult to discern: although the commedia dell’arte masked and villainous Shakespeare is easily identified, as is Queen Elizabeth with her robes and allusions to monarchy, the distinction between the Shakespearean play characters is often less clear. The text, too, proved difficult and incredibly dense, making it a very hard piece to follow and grasp fully. Blanco disorientates and intimidates the audience, confronting them directly so as to make them uneasy, leading to a walk-out in the already small audience. Lady Shakespeare is theatre at its most challenging.

Thematically, Lady Shakespeare tackles some interesting aspects of gender identity, but it does so in a manner so convoluted and alienating that it is very hard to sit back and enjoy. Blanco is clearly a very talented actress, dealing with complex material in a way that displays a whole range of emotions and passions, truly getting to the crux of Elizabeth I, as well as Shakespearean characters such as Lady Macbeth and Isabella from Measure for Measure. However, this is not enough to guide the audience through what is going on. Emotionally, aspects of women’s life and suffering are made very clear. The text, however, with its endless allusions to historical events and plays, is simply too inaccessible to enjoy on first viewing. Its attempts to be clever make it impenetrable and unsettling.

Reviews by Fiona Russell

Underbelly Potterrow

Randy Writes a Novel

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Notflix

★★★★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

Piaf and Brel: The Impossible Concert

★★★★
Book Lovers' Tour Departure

Book Lovers' Tour

★★★★
Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters

Giacinto Palmieri: Nietzsche, Women and I

Assembly George Square Theatre

The HandleBards: Richard III

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

The splendour of the Elizabethan theatre also has its shadows and mysteries. Queen Elizabeth knows them very well. She knows its ins and outs better than we think. The famous bard, known throughout history and around the world, William Shakespeare, created many relevant female characters who usually remain hidden behind the curtains. This show brings them to the fore, to the front-line of war, as characters who are prepared to discover one of the greatest secrets of our culture: the true identity of William Shakespeare.

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets