Fringe Review : Shakespeare’s Queens: She-Wolves and Serpents

As I said in an earlier post, I’m not a big fan of Shakespeare, but I thought this show might be interesting and a little educational. The show starts with two splendidly dressed queens on stage who introduce themselves as Queen Elizabeth the First and Mary Queen of Scots. For those non-historians, they were cousins and Elizabeth had Mary executed for plotting against her, this is worth knowing as the two Queens make continual jibes and snide remarks to each other throughout the show.

The Queens then summon William Shakespeare himself to the stage and explain to him they are on a 21 century stage in Edinburgh in order to examine the various Queens that have appeared in his plays.

The show then proceeds through multiple Shakespearean plays/scenes with an introduction to each. The three characters introduce each scene and with a quick minor wardrobe change (a different crown and maybe a scarf or necklace) Elizabeth and/or Mary take on the role of one of Shakespeare’s queens.

This is expertly done by all three actors, (Shakespeare takes on male roles when required). Numerous roles are enacted with the actors slipping back to their original characters between each segment, which provides much humour as Elizabeth & Mary make little remarks and comments at the others expense. William also provides humour with comments, not wishing to insult either queen and also by dropping comments e.g. a couple mentions about his “blockbuster hit Romeo & Juliet” (which does not feature as it has no Queens in it).

The levity and introduction to each scene works well as it featured quite a few plays I had no knowledge of, but I could follow most of the show due to the continuing narration from all three characters.

I don’t know if it’s easier to portray multiple characters from different plays or not, but I thought all three actors did a marvelous job of jumping back and forward from their main character and those in each small segment.

In summary : a really good show not necessarily for the ‘hard core” Shakespeare fan (if there is such a thing!)




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