FRINGE REVIEW – Shakespeare’s Queens: She-wolves and Serpents, C eca


Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots and William Shakespeare are brought together in the afterlife to perform for a modern-day audience. With the Bard acting as referee between an uneasy alliance of the monarchs, they decide to race through his works, highlighting the characters and roles of his regal females.

Shakesepeare’s Queens is the work of Straylight Australia, and is an accomplished and light-hearted romp through the tragedies, comedies and histories. Rachel Ferris and Kath Perry do an impressive job of breathing life into Hamlet’s Gertrude, Lady Macbeth, Cleopatra and more, whilst Patrick Trumper flits between their male leads with equal aplomb.

A lightness is brought to what otherwise may have been a self-indulgent exercise by the interaction amongst the three characters between scenes. A theme of examining whether Elizabeth’s autocratic style of rulership is better than Mary’s more passionate reign ties things together, but is a little too loose: tightening this would perhaps have brough the piece more cohesion as a whole.

That said, it is an entertaining ‘best of’ package, with all three actors impressing: particularly Perry’s take on the seductive nature of absolute power. And as the parade of she-wolves and serpents dissolves back into the ether, Straylight have successfully demonstrated that behind every great man, there is a procession of equally great women.

Shakespeare’s Queens is at C eca until 25 Aug at 1400. More details are on the Fringe website.

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