Shakespeare's Queens – She-wolves and Serpents:
This is another show by Kath Perry in the same vein as her Shakespeare’s Mothers – Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know of last year. Again, it allows her to select the juiciest bits of the Bard’s plays to build a show around. Instead of a 2041 holovision interview on the effect of the plays of William Shakespeare on the rise in international women’s terrorism, the framing mechanism for this show is an argument between the spirits of Queen Elizabeth I (played by Kath Perry) and Mary Queen of Scots (played by Rachel Ferris) on the proper conduct of a queen. To that end they summon the spirit of William Shakespeare (played by Patrick Trumper) to explain the roles of the queens in his plays.
What begins is a journey through the various queens of Shakespeare’s plays, with the three actors effortlessly moving into the roles required of them for their parts in the vignettes stolen from the plays, with just the addition of some small costume element, and a change in posture and expression, signifying the assumption of a new role. But each role is clear and distinct. These are three seriously talented actors at the top of their craft that make it all look impossibly easy.
In between each scene from the plays, there is relaxed and easy (dare one say majestic) banter* occurs as both commentary on the plays and narration, as William Shakespeare guides us through his work, and presents each queen in context.
Twenty-four queens in sixty minutes. You can’t get better value than that. Go see it.
[* In other words, some people just can't get over the fact that you chopped off their head!]
I'm a definite fan of Shakespeare’s Mothers – Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know and Shakespeare's Queens – She-wolves and Serpents. If I had to compare the two, I'd have to say that "Mothers" had the better framing but "Queens" had the better actors.** If you like the Bard's works this is a must see show. Very well done.
[It is also a good example of why Majer and Smyth's show didn't quite work - they were vocal actors and there was no visual cueing as to when they adopted the roles 9although it worked well when the audience wasn't waiting for a visual cue, so the radio play CD format worked well). Here, after you see the actor add a small visual cue to the costume (often no more than a scarf or just a Tudor rose), you are expectantly waiting to see what personality emerges (actually carried by voice, posture, and expression). The token is just a reminder. Even the act of assuming it was a graceful part of the play. (And for roleplayers, this play is worth seeing as an excellent example for how good actors support the action, even when they are not actively drawing focus). These are really good actors.]
[** And not just because Rachel and Kath wore nice corsets in this production...]