With finishing one book, temping and working on a second Manuscript has meant that the blog this year has been somewhat neglected. So in the summer when I saw that there was a Elizabethan themed play due to run at the Sam Wanamaker Jacobean theatre I knew I had to book it just so that I could get a blog out of it as well as a seasonal treat.
Secret Theatre is an Elizabethan play looking at the English relationship with Europe, looking at security and terror risks, and political in fighting and relationships. You maybe mistaken into thinking from that description that I am referring to Elizabeth II and the 21st century but in fact I am referring to the politics and state of Elizabeth Tudor in the 16th Century.
The play looks at the spy network of Sir Francis Walshingham better known as the queens spy master, and Lord Burghley, as they try to find out and investigate catholic plots to assassinate the queen, with the added motive to preserve the Protestant religion and eliminate Mary Queen of Scots – Elizabeth’s biggest and most dangerous Catholic rival.
During the play we witness murder and plots, the hanging of 2 traitors, the torture of a plotter, and hear the blood curdling botched beheading of Mary Queen of Scots off stage – in many ways this is worse as it leaves it to your imagination to create what happens. The play is therefore not for the weak of stomach nor is it for those of you who find the use of strong course swear words or sexually graphic dialogue distasteful.
Aiden McArdle as Sir Francis Walsingham – Image taken from Globe Instagram feed
Walshingham played by Aiden McArdle plays the part of sickly Walshingham well (modern thought was that he may have been a diabetic). He had the right amount of cunning and intelligence as well as political sneakiness required of courtier and spy master.
Fitzgerald as a walking embodiment of Elizabeth I taken from the Globe Instagram feed
The star performance goes to Tara Fitzgerald who played the role of Elizabeth I. her first entrance on stage took my breathe away and I must have audibly gasped as the man next to me asked me if I was okay. The make up., costumes and manner of Fitzgerald made it look as if Elizabeth had stepped out of a painting of herself the National Portrait Gallery and on to the stage. due to the intimate size of the play house, the close proximity of the stage to the audience and the candle lighting, the effect was left me feeling I was in the presence of the real Queen Elizabeth.
Thought provoking with some references that could transfer to British politics both toady as well as four centuries ago, witty, cleaver and dramatic stage stunts the the show was frankly one of the best things I have seen at the theatre ever.
The play is on at the Sam Wanamaker theatre within the Globe Theatre complex in Southwark London until 16th December and is highly recommended should it tour the country.