It took moment for me to warm to Queen Anne, both the character and the play.
The play is newly written by Helen Edmundson. Queen Anne reigned from 1702-1714, a reign largely remembered by Anglo Australians (if at all) for the style of furniture and architecture of the day. I was early enough to brush up on my history from the program.
The play involves all the intrigue and machinations of court and reminded me of the English Reformations with their pretense of piety and claims of the ‘truth’ when it was always about personal power. Some things never change – in politics and church. I got over it quickly though.
Princess Anne, the character, had an unhealthy relationship with Sarah Churchill. Initially this enamored obsession distracted her from obligations. Frankly it was annoying. We empathized with her situation – 17 miscarriages and a son who died aged eleven, but she is sickly and detached from the Royal goings-on even though she is heir to the throne.
However, Emma Cunniffe (below, right) triumphed in the role, and from her coronation on we loved Queen Anne more and more.
Much is made of the newfound ‘freedom of the press’ following the repeal of the Licensing Act in 1695, allowing uncensored publications to be printed. Much was made of this ‘bad press’ in influencing the decision-making of Queen and advisors. Indeed, nothing has changed.
Anne was the last Stuart monarch and her reign is remembered for the uniting of England and Scotland – the United Kingdom, Anne’s pet project. Much amusement followed comments of the day, apt now in terms of devolution, successionism and Brexit.
Finely acted and good direction by Natalie Abrahami. Much more enjoyable than ‘The Ferryman’.