I, Elizabeth

Dyad Productions

Assembly Roxy

From 07 August 2015 to 31 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Having brought their suitable brilliance to the stage in a variety of forms over the last several years, the theatrical pairing of Guy Masterson and Rebecca Vaughan has returned their 2010 masterpiece I, Elizabeth to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Taking place in a large room on a throne upon a giant chequered floor, the virgin Queen sits, contemplates, paces and recriminates, flitting from one thought to another, as she scrutinises her life, her duties and her place in the universe.

Her rants and observations cover everything from religion and politics to family, love and the difficulty and necessity of finding a husband suitable for her station while the flickering lights showing the weight of the strain upon her mind, doubling her over in pain.

Creating a believable evocation of Elizabeth Tudor takes a Herculean effort on Vaughan's part and as ever she rises to the challenge and easily surpasses. Yet it's a toll for the audience as well. The dialogue and references do make an assumption of a basic knowledge of the time and situation and, while the performnace builds to a dramatic and emotionally fraught climax, there are points around the mid-section where the length of the play can certainly be felt.

There was also an unfortunate problem with feedback the afternoon I saw the production, with the first 10 minutes or so of the production marred making it difficult to concentrate. Luckily, this issue was fixed soon enough and the writing and performance sufficiently captivating to draw me fully into the scene.

As ever, though, Dyad has reliably delivered great theatre to the Edinburgh Fringe and, as always, its presence elevates the Festival as a whole.