The Single Lady

Lauren Brewer and Will Geraint Drake’s The Single Lady is a musical extravaganza, giving Elizabeth I the same treatment that Hamilton did to the Founding Fathers. Incredibly upbeat and full of fun wordplay and historical references, The Single Lady is completely unmissable.

Completely unmissable

Based on historic events and set after the mysterious death of Robert Dudley’s (Olly Stanton) wife, Elizabeth I (Lucie Fletcher) is forced to make a choice about whether to embrace the scandal of her and Dudley’s relationship or keep her crown. However, things become complicated when Dudley decides to court her cousin and best friend, Lettice Knollys (Emily Phillips).

Drake’s music is incredible, ranging from ballads to raps that are full of rich harmonies and competing melodies that are enjoyable to listen to as the story is revived. Combined with Lauren Williams’ choreography, the show takes on a semblance of grandeur, particularly noticeable during the song Destiny’s Bride, which is amplified with the inclusion of traditional Elizabethan choreography. Modern references are weaved throughout, and they are so seamlessly placed within the songs, that it doesn’t grate. The lighting design lets the production down, not taking advantage of some of the more powerful and dramatic moments within the score. This is especially noticeable during Elizabeth’s 11 o'clock song I am the Queen, a song which speaks to the conflict at the heart of this show.

There are some problems with the book. Firstly, despite the fact that this is a story about Elizabeth I, an incredibly powerful and inspiring historical figure, there are moments that come close to relying on out-of-date portrayals of women. Firstly, the show’s conflict is partly reliant on Elizabeth’s and Lettice’s competition and disagreement over a man, despite their shared history. Not only is this juvenile, but it shows women tearing each other down in an incredibly jealous and catty way. Secondly, Lettice’s character for most of the show is rooted in a misogynistic archetype of the Whore. As the seemingly ‘other woman’ we are encouraged to hate this character for no other reason than that she slept with someone the main character liked.

From her incredibly powerful belt that appears to have the potential to fill a much larger space, to her ability to give new life to Elizabeth, Fletcher carries this show. Phillips’ interpretation of Lettice provides us with new insight into a historical figure that most of us won’t know much about. Despite how we are first introduced to the character, Phillips manages tactfully to subvert our initial assumptions and turn Lettice into an incredibly sympathetic character. Going further, the relationship between Elizabeth and Lettice could be developed more, as we mostly see them interact when they are in a state of conflict with each other. Whilst this works for the current iteration of this musical, we lose any emotional response we may have when the relationship breaks down because we don’t aren’t familiar of the extent and depth of the relationship, and so don’t know the cost when it is lost.

Despite its flaws, The Single Lady has a solid score with a book that can hopefully be erased of its problems before it is taken any further. Residing somewhere between Hamilton and Six, this musical is one for the history books.

Visit Show Website

Reviews by Katerina Partolina Schwartz

The Stand Comedy Club

Helen Bauer: Madam Good Tit

★★★★★
Seven Dials Playhouse

Help! We Are Still Alive

★★★
Leicester Square Theatre

Rhys Nicholson - Rhys! Rhys! Rhys!

★★★★★
The Bridge House Theatre

Everybody Wants To Rule The World

The Playground Theatre

Rehab: The Musical

★★★★
Soho Theatre

Javelin

★★★★★

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 £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

As the daughter of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth has witnessed, first hand, the consequences of when love goes wrong. But when the Queen falls into an unfortunate love triangle with her courtier and favourite Robert Dudley and cousin and confidante Lettice Knollys, she must reckon with the forces of history in an attempt to save her throne. Drake and Brewer’s new musical offers a unique angle into the sacrifice and personal cost it takes to be a female leader in a man’s world. Perhaps the Virgin Queen isn’t all she seems in the history books…

Most Popular See More

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets