Queen Anne ascended to the throne in 1702 after her brother-in-law King William died. She was not glamorous or beautiful, she failed to produce any heirs and reigned for only 12 years.
RCS’s Queen Anne, now transferred to the Westend, marks Anne’s development into a strong leader. It portrays the unhealthy relationship been Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough and it’s eventual demise.
Anne, played by Emma Cuniffe, is pathetic, obsessed with her best friend and emotionally manipulative. Marlborough, played Ramona Garai, is cunning and politically manipulative. Refreshingly, it is not a feel-good play about friendship and female loyalty as one might imagine. My heart swells to find a play of this kind on the westend with women as the focus. Anne and Malborough make and undeniably engaging pair, especially as the ‘puppet master’ gets tangled in her own strings. Garai and Cuniffe’s performances are well matched. Natalie Abrahami’s production is at times fast paced but at other times rather static, there is quite a bit of dialogue which can be difficult to wade through if you’re having trouble catching up with the political machinations. The satirical musical interludes (led by James Christie as the dapper Lord Maynwaring) are immensely entertaining and allow the peasants with short attention spans (me) to get the jist of things. Costumes are also gorgeous, elegant dresses just shy of the extravagant Georgian era.
For those not well versed about this period of time (like myself) it can be a little difficult to follow, but I am quite rewarded in what I discovered about this rarely acknowledged Queen. For example it was her reign that lead to the development of the two party system we have today. And she also solidified Protestant rule in Britain by naming her successor the German King George.
Queen Anne is running at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until September 30. Cheapest tickets are £15. There are also day tickets in person at 10 am on the day of the performance. £10 or £5 for 16-25s