Elizabeth I has never felt so up to date in Living Spits rough around the edges production.
20 Sep 2014
If I may be so bold as to say, Elizabeth I: Virgin on the ridiculous is, as expected, the most ludicrous show in production. After the ground breaking success of their previous showcase, The six wives of Henry VIII', Living Spit have once again struck gold – or are at least in the process of striking some form of precious metal.
This farcical two-thesp dialogue of the Virgin Queen's life and times has the feel of a fantastic work-in-progress. Whilst the majority of the comedy is spot-on and ready for performance, there are a few loose ends here and there.
Beginning with the dramatic and sudden death of her older sister Mary in 1558, Elizabeth takes the throne, turning to her pink princess diary for a very amusing inner monologue scene. From here on in the play delves even further in to the depths of the bizarre and inexplicable to illustrate the monarch's story.
Ram packed with energetic musical spoofs, performed by the likes of a rapping Walter Raleigh, some genuinely magnificent singing and sharp wordsmanship, the performance works it's way through Lizzie's potential lovers and marriage refusals, right up to her death. Cue the abrupt entrance of rock god, ‘so good they named me twice' James I and IV.
The company's use of music throughout the production is effective, with several instruments visible on stage throughout the entire routine, to be called upon when needed. The costumes however, are somewhat less impressive; but somehow the all-male cast manage to pull off the feminine dresses, and long luxurious wigs, which illuminate the characters and add to the farcical nature of the play.
There were a few minor stumbles over the script, which left some of the punchlines slightly lacking but on the whole the lines are delivered very effectively and received with raucous hilarity. Yet, an unnecessary flashback scene, for which there is no prior warning, somewhat lacks in audience response, due to its uncomfortable nature. The scene depicts the suspected sex scandal between an early teenage Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour, the husband of Elizabeth's last step-mother, Katherine Parr. As this is preceded by a very funny off-stage dialogue about erasing the scene there was no real need to re-enact the moment on stage.
During the second half the plot begins to flag a little and there is room for argument that two hours is slightly too lengthy. Nevertheless, this self-aware play is, for the most part, fabulous light-hearted entertainment, filled with audience asides, audience participation, tongue-in-cheek merchandise plugs and references to pop-culture. With a bit of practice this work-in-progress is sure to be another hit