Elizabeth I was one of England's most memorable monarchs, yet she could have easily vanished from history — killed, or permanently banished to the Tower, where she endured years of captivity. This double identity, both prisoner and prince, permanently coloured her sense of destiny.
Rebecca Vaughan has woven Elizabeth's eloquent speeches, poems, prayers and other writing into a riveting and heart-wrenching play which she also performs — not so much impersonating the queen as reincarnating her. This Elizabeth is driven by her love for England and its inhabitants. She feels married to the nation and angry that parliament urges her to marry another and risk her very life to secure the line of succession. More than a history lesson, I, Elizabeth raises questions that remain relevant today: how can a woman succeed at her job? What does she owe herself, and how can she reconcile her personal needs with ambition and duty? How might she retain her freedom and identity? What must be sacrificed along the way?
By turns imperious and girlish, funny and furious, commanding, supplicating, and always politically astute, Vaughan's Elizabeth is a breathtaking creation. This is a performance that will haunt you and one that's not to be missed.
I, Elizabeth is a moving, emotional and passionate production. It shows Elizabeth I, frustrated and pondering, after receiving a letter from the nobles and Lords of England with regards to matters concerning her marriage and her heir. She has a dilemma at hand, and is unsure as to whether to speak out or keep quiet.
Rebecca Vaughan plays a five star role as Elizabeth, giving her all and more to the performance, confiding in the audience as though they are her closest confidants. The audience feels as if they have been transported back in time to the late 1600s, and are actually there with Elizabeth I, in her privy chamber, listening to her predicaments, thoughts and problems, and have been trusted with the position of giving council to her majesty. You are made aware of, and drawn into, the catch 22 situations, which were experienced by the strong, sarcastic, yet amusing monarch during her reign.
Throughout the show you become aware of just how difficult a job this Queen had, balancing her nobles and advisers, and keeping everyone satisfied so as not to create a situation where she is turned against and replaced. The difficulty of her relationship with Robert Dudley and how that affected her as a woman and queen, her perplexity with how to handle the situation with her cousin Mary Stuart, and how she felt disinclined to marry as she felt that she was married to England is all explored.
The costume is fantastic, the acting superb, and the content brilliant. A definite must see for history and theatre addicts.
Any actress portraying Elizabeth I would have to have a strong presence with bold red hair. Rebecca Vaughan delivers. The great queen reigned from 1558 until her death in 1603. This production is based on the time when she was at her peak.
The simple but effective set consists only of a chair, desk, a few small props, Nothing else was needed.
The costume worn by Rebecca Vaughan is extremely beautiful. Designed and made by Kate Flanaghan, a graduate from the Central School of Speech and Drama in 2007. The red in the costume is bold, vivid and extremely delightful.
Rebecca, delivers a strong, powerful, charismatic performance, she scripted herself. Her facial expressions add to her delivery in scenes of anger, rage, prudent, careful, decisive, curious, mistrusting, as well as scenes of her being soft and thoughtful!Her piercing eyes captivated the audience, engaging them with her strong presence. They were acknowledged by the great queen and drawn into her dry, subtle and starkly humorous banter. I enjoyed watching the audience glaring at Elizabeth I, in return the queen glaring back to her audience,. It was very captivating.
Director Guy Masterson, has done well delivering a production which within 70 minutes, takes you through tales of Huguenots; Protestantism spread France; Mary Queen of Scots; Henry VIII; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; François, Duke of Anjou; William Cecil, Nicholas Throckmorton; Philip II of Spain; Archduke Charles of Austria; Henri, Duke of Anjou.
One explosive, heated scene gripped the audience. Everyone in the room shook with fear as the queen read a document from the House of Commons which threatened to withhold funds until she agreed to provide for the succession, marry and provide an heir. Elizabeth I explodes with raged and anger!
This fine production has been created from adaptations of historical speeches, letters, poems and prayers from Elizabeth I. The well-written script is true to the original story. Rebecca Vaughan, in role as Elizabeth I has delivered a performance worthy of an Academy Award Oscar.
An amazing performance, coupled with a detailed and beautifully constructed script combine to create a truly breathtaking experience. Convincingly playing Elizabeth I as both a woman and a queen, Rebecca Vaughan is an incredible talent. Directed by the award-winning Guy Masterson, I, Elizabeth is an unmissable night at the theatre.
This play takes the audience through many of the major stages and conflicts of Elizabeth's reign. These include her advisors constant pleas for her marital union; her disagreements and moral conundrums regarding her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots; her thoughts on war, religion and politics and her vulnerabilities as a woman; and as the ruler of one of the most powerful countries in the world. The soliloquy is honest emotion and compelling history wrapped into a flowing and complex script and riveting performance. While the depth of history that is explored may confuse a few audience members, rectify this simply by picking up a program from the helpful front-of-house staff that gives a background to the political and personal events referred to during the play.
It was often said of Laurence Olivier that he spoke Shakespearean language as if he were truly thinking it. This is how I felt about Rebecca Vaughan watching her power through an emotionally engaging script that she had written herself from Elizabeth's own material. She was so convincing – not just in her pale skinned and red-headed looks – but her mannerisms, bearing and most especially her commanding voice and use of language. The minimal set allowed all eyes to focus on Vaughan as she went through an amazing emotional range, from sadness, to fear, to anger, to disdain, to love, to doubt and so on. Elizabeth's strengths and vulnerabilities were both equally apparent. It becomes evident why Elizabeth was one of England's most powerful monarchs. Her astute political mind, her cunning intelligence, her honesty with herself, her female compassion, and her strong desire for peace were all touched upon in this remarkable performance.
The audience is instantly transported to 16th Century England as Elizabeth talks to them (her internal vision of the English people) about a petition she had received from her advisors that wished her to marry and produce an heir. Emotional engagement and sympathies stay with her throughout, particularly in a very powerful prayer she offered to God towards the end of the play to overcome her self doubts. The history that was covered was fascinating to hear from Elizabeth's personal point of view and should enlighten viewers that weren't so informed of the period. While there were flashes of lighting and sound that denoted a change in theme, it didn't detract at all from Rebecca's absorbing portrayal of Elizabeth and the flow of the script.
This truly remarkable performance is a must-see for anyone who loves history, appreciates an incredible production in terms of acting, writing, costuming, staging, directing and producing, or just anyone who wants an engaging night at the theatre. It is an absolute master class and I can't recommend this highly enough.
It is rare for a play delivered by single performer to enrapture an audience successfully for a full hour. Yet 'I, Elizabeth' does, presenting a wholly fresh and dynamic interpretation of a well-known character. Using a script based on Elizabeth's own words, Rebecca Vaughan leads the audience through the queen's struggle between her womanhood and duty to her kingdom. The performance feels meticulously researched and well polished and Vaughan depicts a complex character who is unexpectedly easy to relate to. The range of emotions expressed is impressive, from wry irony that elicits the occasional chuckle from the audience, to deep despair. Occasionally the queen's anger verges on the incredible, but overall, Vaughan succeeds in a performance that gathers momentum and enraptures her audience.
A Chair and side table set in front of the arras were all that were required to transport us back to an atmospheric privy chamber in 1568. Rebecca Vaughan as Queen Elizabeth I held the audience spellbound with her magnificent portrayal of the Tudor monarch. Her personal struggle, insecurities and doubts were laid bare as the whole gamut of emotions poured from a performance that was more than worthy of the generous ovation given by a very appreciative audience.
Elizabeth reigned for 44 years, inheriting the crown in 1558 at the age of 25, and although she appeared strong and determined, her personal anxieties plagued her. None so much as the question of who should follow after her death and take the throne, and the even bigger problem of who or when she would marry in order of providing a legitimate heir.
Elizabeth's own legacy of letters, speeches, poems, prayers and other writings, as well as many recorded conversations with ambassadors and Privy Councillors were used to script this dramatic piece and they reveal the fiery, intelligent woman, yet often given to procrastination and fits of weeping.
The political struggles and challenges of religion and war seem strangely paralleled in today's world, as we see Elizabeth tormented by the difficulties of maintaining the security of her beloved people and balancing her personal needs with the demands of her advisors and politicians.
Vaughan's ability to sustain and deliver such a huge amount of dialogue in a single monologue was a privilege to witness. No mean task on a hot, stuffy summers eve whilst wearing a constrictive, heavy Tudor costume, but the very talented Vaughan was utterly convincing in every aspect. An excellent performance by a fine actress. So much better than any History lesson.
‘I may not be a lion but I am a lion's cub'
Burdened with the crown and sceptre of England aged just 25, Elizabeth I was a monarch on a mission. Rebecca Vaughan's faultless and sublime performance illuminates the Queen's political quest to restore peace and stability to her wounded kingdom, and her personal tumult in doing so.
It is a balancing act of woman and sovereign, of power and feebleness. Written by Vaughan using the Monarch's own words from writings, speeches and prayers, and directed by Guy Masterson, I, Elizabeth brings to life the political intrigue and the family turbulence that marked her reign. It makes the politics of 16th century England as relevant as an issue of Now! magazine. It is a stunning achievement. (Sarah Martin)
Last Fringe, Rebecca Vaughan appeared in the highly acclaimed 'Austen's Women', in which she showcased a range of Jane Austen's most interesting female characters. This year she returns having reached farther back in time for inspiration, and her character – Queen Elizabeth I; hence the title – from the pages of history rather than fiction.
Using the script she adapted from the actual writings of the Queen herself, Vaughan takes the audience on a journey through the mind of one of history's most singular women and, in doing so, brings the complex monarch to life.
Under Guy Mastersons's direction, Vaughan demonstrates tremendous skill, particularly in portraying the wide range of emotions required to convey the text. It captures the Queen's thoughts on a range of issues she faced – including the inevitable burden of monarchy; the pressure to marry and provide an heir; the constant intrigue and threat of war from both within and without; her relationship with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; and the numerous matters stemming from her Protestantism.
Clever sound (by Waen Shepherd) and lighting effects adds to the dramatic impact, and the gorgeous period costume, courtesy of Kate Flanagan, is spectacular.
Yet another superb production from the C I T ensemble, this is an excellent performance that combines depth, subtlety and a truly masterful grasp of stagecraft.
Scripted from the words of the monarch herself by performer Rebecca Vaughan, Dyad Productions' I, Elizabeth presents a tempestuous portrait of a young queen. Vaughan's performance is rich and commanding, but has the fragile undertones of a gifted young woman buckling under a life of perpetual scrutiny and painfully aware of the precarious isolation that comes with the throne.
Petitioned by parliament to consider either marriage or the appointment of a successor, the young queen enlists the audience to act as her confidante while she ruminates on the duties and perils ahead. Vaughan is the very picture of Elizabeth I, complete with russett wig, powdered countenance, ringed fingers, and sumptuous period costume (constructed and designed by Kate Flanaghan).
The production, directed by Guy Masterson, is rich with historical detail yet sacrifices none of its white-hot theatrical potency. It is thrilling to watch Dyad breathe life anew into a remarkable historical figure.
Taking her text largely from the actual writings, speeches and reported conversations of Elizabeth I, Rebecca Vaughan creates a rounded and nuanced portrait of the most complex and politically astute woman of her age, making the point without having to press it that England was remarkably fortunate to have had her as queen. The strengths of the piece lie in the convincing authenticity of the portrait and in Vaughan's complete and unflagging immersion in the character. Vaughan's performance lets us follow the Queen's thoughts and emotions, as when the question of succession leads to the acknowledgement that Mary of Scotland has the strongest claim. But the more Elizabeth thinks of her cousin, the more irritated she becomes until we glimpse the rage that will eventually determine Mary's fate. Similar trains of thought connect her love of country and commitment to service with her sincere Protestant faith, and offer a hint of where the Queen's remarkable strength came from.
For someone who claims to be answerable to no one, Rebecca Vaughan's Elizabeth I is intensely conscious of what others may think of her. Written and performed by Vaughan, the audience are taken right inside the mind of a monarch whose insecurities only serve to strengthen her resolve. Using sources directly quoting the queen, Vaughan breaks Elizabeth's silence: a silence that has not just lasted the past 400 years, but one that she was forced to adopt during her lifetime both as head of state and as a woman in early modern England.
Vaughan's script creates an exquisite patchwork of an intellectually passionate woman married to her country and mother to its citizens. On its own, the text sheds a poignant light on a remarkable woman. As a spectacle, it becomes a remarkable piece of historical ventriloquism. This spellbinding performance is evidently a true labour of love, created with delicacy and portrayed with startling conviction.
There are so many times one sees the Royals going about their royal business, a wave, a smile and a handshake and it is difficult if not impossible, to really see what they are thinking or worrying about behind closed doors.
Tonight theatre-goers were treated to a fascinating look inside the rather tortured mind of one of the most celebrated royals in the history of our monarchy. The Tudor Queen, Elizabeth the first. The script was compiled from her random notes and thoughts and the delivery came by the way of one of the most talented actresses that has occupied the Walker space for quite some time.
The actress is Rebecca Vaughan from the Dyad production company. Not only did Ms. Vaughan totally immerse herself into character she took an engaged audience with her. Her immersion was quite remarkable right through to the very tips of her fingers the Queen was here and she had something to tell us.
When it came down to her thoughts, they seemed not so very different from thoughts that one in her position might even have today. She was worried about her successor, she commented on politics, religion, heirs and the lack of them.
Using Elizabeth's own words was not only a stroke of genius and a gargantuan research task; they were also highly enlightening, witty and perceptive. This ‘Virgin Queen' with the leaded white face was indeed a very scholarly lady with her finger on the pulse of a medieval world. The delightful factor is that with such a powerful performer one could not help but be transfixed.
The show is a delightful and insightful view of our own history. When one strips wallpaper off an old wall one is always intrigued at what may be beneath. Looking into the personal thoughts of such an iconic Queen was rather akin to that analogy. How could England bestow so much power on a mere mortal? It seems they expected God to make the decisions of government on a day-to-day basis and then the next in order of peck would be the monarch who would deliver his wishes. The stresses of that expectation weighed heavy on the Queen and she wrestled with the whole question of expectations. Who ever thought religion could cause so many problems?
Rebecca Vaughan's portrayal is so beautifully crafted. She presented a slightly melancholic Queen with a general air of distrust and anger for her fellow royals and naturally, her governments. But each emotion, doubt or thought was delivered so enchantingly as she peeled back the veneer and presented a rather vulnerable and paradoxically extremely strong willed queen.
Directed by Guy Masterson, this show was a tour de force for him. It is always a delight to witness such subtle direction. Whilst Rebecca Vaughan brought us an impressively observed character, the delicate traces of a highly competent director's hand worked quietly in the background. All contributing to bring to the audience a powerful performance and an exquisite show.
Another beauty of this show is its portability. All it took was a chequered floor lay three long drapes and a Queen Anne chair and table and that was about it. It needed no more. Anything else in that space would have been clutter and would have offered no other purpose than to get in the way. Instead the words and their enchanting delivery was all that was necessary for this show to work.
Queen Elizabeth the first had such a great responsibility and so did Rebecca Vaughan. It was a mighty responsibility that she undertook, so many actresses could have tried and so many would have failed. However tonight there was an air of regality in the theatre and for seventy-five compelling minutes that air was so beautifully maintained by this incredibly skilful company.
CIT's I, Elizabeth is a master class period piece, a monodrama superbly written and wonderfully performed by the English Rebecca Vaughan. At age 25, Elizabeth, Queen of England in the mid 16th century and daughter of Henry VIII, faces all manner of issues to which she must apply her efforts and country's resources to solving. The most famous of these was her unmarried status (perhaps an attempt to reduce the family average after the record racked up by her father!)
Rebecca Vaughan gives a simply faultless performance, engrossing and revealing as she wrestles with her life, her family's foibles and the difficult issues of religion and war, switching effortlessly from whimsy to humour and unabashed rage.
Students of that late Tudor period will revel in this play and all those who appreciate good theatre will also find the hour spent with Elizabeth I wholly rewarding.
The two hardest things as an actor, at least in my experience, are to memorise your lines and then make to them appear spontaneous and real. To do so without ever losing energy, alone and over a period of a straight hour is nothing short of astounding – and, a feat which Rebecca Vaughan pulls off as Queen Elizabeth nearly effortlessly.
I, Elizabeth is a monologue act pieced together from the Tudor Queen's assorted letters, poems and private correspondence, and offers a glimpse into the chaotic and rich emotional life behind one of England's most memorable rulers as presented by the Queen herself.
Vaughan's character work is undeniably slick: she channels both regality and humility so realistically and so honestly that, even watching from the front, I often forgot I was watching an act at all. And even more impressive was her talent at making irregular, Tudor-style cadence not only make sense to a modern audience, but do it so well that it becomes compelling and, when she wants it to, genuinely funny. Unlike her character's sometimes shaky political life, Vaughan's command of the stage is utterly iron-fisted.
But Vaughan's considerable talent cannot suspend reality by itself, and was aided by a very talented makeup and costume team; the result being a costume with such substance and attention to detail that it wouldn't have looked out of place in a high-budget period drama. The show was nothing short of regal. Vaughan should be praised for her unmistakeable dedication to character work. Short of necromancy, it seems she is the woman to call for bringing the long dead back to complex, compelling life.
This show is a tour de force: a richly layered story about Elizabeth I, Queen of England, played out by Rebecca Vaughan —a consummate actor— over seventy enthralling minutes. The life of Elizabeth has been told many times – it is an intriguing story of political intrigue, romance, statesmanship, religious bigotry, sexual politics, betrayal, insecurity and above all unflinching duty. Written by Vaughan herself, with text lifted straight out of Elizabeth's own writings and from accounts of her conversations, I, Elizabeth seemingly transports Elizabeth into a present day audience hall where she bares her soul to us and in particular explains why she has never married.
Vaughan's performance is unwaveringly sincere and emotionally charged — she feels
Having brought their suitable brilliance to the stage in a variety of forms over the last several years, the theatrical pairing of Guy Masterson and Rebecca Vaughan has returned their 2010 masterpiece I, Elizabeth to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Taking place in a large room on a throne upon a giant chequered floor, the virgin Queen sits, contemplates, paces and recriminates, flitting from one thought to another, as she scrutinises her life, her duties and her place in the universe.
Her rants and observations cover everything from religion and politics to family, love and the difficulty and necessity of finding a husband suitable for her station while the flickering lights showing the weight of the strain upon her mind, doubling her over in pain.
Creating a believable evocation of Elizabeth Tudor takes a Herculean effort on Vaughan's part and as ever she rises to the challenge and easily surpasses. Yet it's a toll for the audience as well. The dialogue and references do make an assumption of a basic knowledge of the time and situation and, while the performance builds to a dramatic and emotionally fraught climax, there are points around the mid-section where the length of the play can certainly be felt.
There was also an unfortunate problem with feedback the afternoon I saw the production, with the first 10 minutes or so of the production marred making it difficult to concentrate. Luckily, this issue was fixed soon enough and the writing and performance sufficiently captivating to draw me fully into the scene.
As ever, though, Dyad has reliably delivered great theatre to the Edinburgh Fringe and, as always, its presence elevates the Festival as a whole.
In her bearing and manner, Rebecca Vaughan's portrayal of the young Elizabeth I is immediately convincing. She successfully brings a dramatic realism to a unique woman who must be one of history's greatest survivors. Having your mother put to death by your father and imprisoned by your sister under threat of execution, bears testament to a turbulent early life.
The starting point of the play is her reaction to a petition from Parliament earnestly encouraging her to consider marriage and thus the prospect of children to ensure the succession. She argues persuasively for remaining unmarried and celibate. Her attitude is governed not simply by her instinct of self preservation but the well being of the country, fearing the prospect of civil war if she gives in.
She is at her most intimate and passionate in her relationship with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, whose headstrong behaviour could engulf the country in warfare.
Portraits of Elizabeth I give little away showing a mask like countenance. As writer and performer, Rebecca Vaughan reveals Elizabeth to be an intelligent, emotional and remarkable young woman. This is an outstanding achievement, aided by Guy Masterson as director.
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.
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 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.
"I know all that goes on in my kingdom", states Elizabeth I in an imperious voice – and we learn why she'd need to be on the alert as this play, which incredibly is based on her own words, unfolds. Rebecca Vaughan owns the stage in the title role, and her nuanced performance evokes a woman who faces tough decisions yet is a force to be reckoned with. I, Elizabeth is a powerful one-woman show that succeeds in portraying the Tudor queen with a lot of depth.
There is no plot; instead it's set in the early part of Elizabeth's reign, as she considers various threats to her power. Following a petition from Parliament, Elizabeth is caught in a Catch-22 situation: she can only create stability and reduce the threat from Mary Queen of Scots by marrying, yet there's no man she can marry without causing further problems. There's also trouble brewing abroad; defiantly, she says she's "more afraid of making a fault in my Latin" than of France and Spain, even as they're circling round England.
Rebecca Vaughan pulls off the demanding role with aptitude, and succeeds in captivating the audience for over an hour. Even at her most vulnerable, as she frets for the future of the country she says she is married to, Elizabeth exudes a credible air of regal power and leaves the audience in no doubt of her "princely intelligence". The simple set meanwhile strikes a good balance of creating royal surroundings without distracting from the focus of Elizabeth herself.
I found it particularly intriguing that the script is constructed from Elizabeth's actual writings, which succeed in bringing her to life in a genuinely unnerving way. It makes for a piece of theatre which isn't always easy to follow, and people who aren't interested in 16th century history may struggle with the historical references; but it's certainly worth putting the effort in.
Elizabeth is a figure who ultimately had to go it alone, and a charismatic one-woman show is the ideal way to bring her to life. It's a play which will go down best with those who already have more than a passing interest in history – but offers a real treat for those who do fall into this category.
Rebecca Vaughan brought us the women of Jane Austen's fertile imagination last year. This year she is back with a real life, larger than life woman, Queen Elizabeth I. In 1558 at the age of 25 Elizabeth has come to the throne, to an England devastated by religious and foreign conflicts and bankrupt through the excesses and mismanagement of her older sister, Mary. Vaughan's script uses Elizabeth's own words, taken from her writings and from records of her conversations. Guy Masterson directed the production, with a good eye for the rich language and emotional content.
It is Vaughan's performance, though, that lifts the words from the page and brings Elizabeth into clear focus, not as a vague figure from England's history, linked to dates and facts, wars and events, but as a very real person, with the weight of great responsibility on her young shoulders and her own personal problems.
Vaughan gives a performance that covers just about every conceivable emotion, from great rage in her dealings with Mary to the exposure of her fears and insecurities. She gives us a woman who is at times endearing, at others terrifying, strong and confident, yet with a very human fragility that she keeps hidden.
This is a stunning production and a magnificently rich and complex performance that should be high on your list of shows to see this Fringe. Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
I, Elizabeth is a delicate monologue which allows Rebecca Vaughan to display her undeniable talent in full force, maintaining a thick tension in the room throughout. A study of Elizabeth I focused on character and emotion rather than plot, and guided by a convincing and commanding performance, I, Elizabeth gets to the heart of the icon in a way that is undeniably believable.
Elegantly written, the script is an amalgamation of Elizabeth's own words in the form of letters, speeches, poetry and prayers, assembled with remarkable continuity by Vaughan herself. Describing her reactions to events and conveying her most intimate thoughts, Vaughan maintains the regality of the icon without plunging into pitiful victimhood. Speaking with elegance and power, she skips self-indulgence to give a vivid portrayal of an elusive queen. The piece reaches its culmination at a mental breakdown; reeking of power even in moments of vulnerability, Vaughan somehow manages to blend together both assertiveness and weakness. The minimalist use of props and Vaughan's delicate acting enable the monologue to appear entirely spontaneous, a careful character study that exults in emotion and draws you in completely.
With the help of a talented make-up and costume designer, Vaughan suspends the present in a way that is entirely absorbing. The stage and lighting simple, the focus is on the acting. There is no need for convoluted dialogue, metaphors or gimmicky stage props; the strength of this piece lies in the emotion it draws out in viewer and performer alike.
Elizabeth Tudor was arguably the first truly people's monarch. From the moment she ascended the throne in 1558, she understood the need to win the hearts of her subjects, anticipating the modern concept of politics being the art of the possible by four centuries. She inherited a land traumatised by war and religious persecution. But within a few years, Elizabeth had united the country, would famously see off foreign enemies, and make her beloved native turf a nation to be reckoned with.
Rebecca Vaughan's immaculately crafted one-woman production gets right to the heart and soul of this remarkable individual, who in addition to bearing a royal burden, also had to wrestle with the more universal theme of what it meant to be a woman in the man's world of the 16th century.
One by one, she answers her own questions, such as the pressing issue of whether or not she should marry. Yes, it might solve problems of succession, but what if her prince should become a tyrant of her people?
She therefore decides against wedlock, declaring with all the majesty at her disposal that she is already wed… to her beloved England.
Casting a historian's as well as an actor's eye down the centuries, Ms Vaughan wears the Tudor crown with a regal splendour, her voice ranging from girlish whisper to a stentorian boom that would have had the late Margaret Thatcher gasping in admiration. At times, there are echoes of the celebrated Tilbury speech to her soldiers as the Armada draws near, when she famously declared that although having the body of a feeble woman, she had the heart of a king… and a king of England, too. Who would not follow a woman such as this?
This production lasts for 75 minutes without an interval and is testimony to the skill and endurance of Rebecca Vaughan. And like the subject of her piece, she never once wavers or falters... qualities that would no doubt have met with the approval of our Good Queen Bess herself.
Rebecca Vaughan's portrayal of Elizabeth I is nothing short of mesmerising. Hers is a queen that wrestles with the duality of being both monarch and a woman, and refuses to concede to the pressures brought about by both – externally, at least. She rants, she whispers, she is driven to tears of sadness and anger. This is a very moving performance.
All of the words used in the performance are Elizabeth's own, put together and brought to the stage with great skill and passion by Vaughan. She is utterly convincing as England's 16th century queen.
The set is perfect, the lighting and sound effects are minimal yet striking, but ultimately it is Vaughan's wonderful performance that ensures that this show is up there with the best of the Fringe this year.
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