St. George’s Hall, Liverpool
15th of April, 2017
Reviewed by Samera Thalen
Chalice Productions presented a one evening only performance of The Regina Monologues a dramatization of the play written by Rebecca Russell and Jenny Wafer. This all women production directed by Laura J. Harris consists of monologues by six women about their relationship with the famous English monarch Henry VIII.
Who were these queens that lived with King Henry VIII four centuries ago? And how do their feelings and circumstances relate to our experience as women in the 21st century? This play has all the elements that form a perfectly convincing and entertaining contemporary drama.
The Regina Monologues is a play about female experience; six women are dealing with timeless themes of love, female identity, survival and death. The stories of all six are intertwined and in a parallel perspective to the queens who lived before them. These completely different types of women use modern technology and a lot of wine to give expression to their love and disgust of the one man on their mind; Henry VIII aka the Golden Guy.
The play gives an insight into the private lives of these women whose stories unfold gradually before us. There is Kathy a mature woman dressed in a comfortable purple jogging suit who wears big curlers in her hair. She could have just walked from the streets of Liverpool up onto the stage. Then there is Katie the fifth wife, a young woman in a typical English school uniform who goes through some horrible times with the Golden Guy. The last wife Catherine a strong woman, married many times before, shares some important knowledge with us; ‘Being very rich and about to die makes any man practically irresistible to women’ and ‘No woman should rely on a man to keep her!’
The women take turns to tell their stories, one monologue at a time in a circular manner so that we hear each wife in turn six times. The success of this structure is reinforced by the excellent use of spotlight that projects a bright beam onto the woman that’s speaking whilst the other actors freeze their pose in the dark to become one with the set. After every round of stories, the spotlight dimmed and a soft yellow light was projected over the stage. All the women stood up and walked over the stage to their next domestic setting thereby visually weaving their stories together.
The variety of characters was skilfully emphasised by the different musical tracks like Beethoven’s Für Elise and Sexy Boy by the French duo AIR. The music was played during or just before each monologue which gave an impression of the characters personalities.
I found the play to be extremely entertaining and laugh out loud funny. I was impressed with the way that many women’s taboo subjects such as IVF, rape, miscarriage and postnatal depression were discussed freely on the stage. The excellent actors were very professional and gave a candid performance of the wives of a powerful man. The monologues included ecstatic tales of love to tear-pulling stories of misery, betrayal and loss. I was told that there were technical difficulties, but I did not notice it throughout the performance, although the start of the play was fashionably late as is any woman’s prerogative!
For their next project, Chalice Productions will be working together with a number of primary schools in the Ellesmere Port area bringing us one of Shakespeare’s most adored classics A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play will be performed between the 19-25th of June in three spectacular outdoor locations. I can’t wait to see how these little bright stars will perform this epic classic.
Clare Grace Williamson as Kathy (Catherine of Aragon)
Charlotte Graves as Annie (Anna Boleyn)
Amy Harris as Jane (Jane Seymour)
Laura Harris as Anna (Anne of Cleves)
Lucy Forrester as Katie (Catharina Howard)
Kylie Heron as Catherine (Catharina Parr)
Lighting – Jade Franks
Sound & Set – Terasa Newton