Elizabeth: Almost By Chance A Woman opens in two weeks and it’s a wild scrimmage of flying horse hair and heels and ripping bodices!
Not long now until we can peek inside the Queen’s boudoir in Malthouse Theatre’s bold new commission of Elizabeth: Almost by chance a woman, by Italian master satirist Dario Fo.
Historical revisionism has never been so much fun as Malthouse Theatre present a new translation from iconic Nobel prize winning Italian playwright Dario Fo, of the fabulous monstrosity which is Elizabeth, Almost By Chance A Woman or Quasi Per Caso Una Donna: Elisabetta.
You’ve never seen the Virgin Queen quite like this…
“Dario Fo nails pretension and political; chicanery with ridicule, laughter, sarcasm and irony." – Variety
Monarch. Maiden or Super-freak the Virgin Queen is about to be dragged into the twenty-first century… …and she’s not coming politely.
In a court of high passion, suspicion and intrigue, where a burgeoning bureaucracy makes even whispering dangerous and a super-efficient secret service of spies and assassins happily make heads roll, absolute power is proving elusive for our Queen Elizabeth – Elizabeth I that is, and she’s not happy. Forget Elizabeth I as you think you know her – pure with virginity, loved by the people and mythic mother to the nation… instead you are invited, by Her Majesty’s appointment, to a right royal arse-kicking.
Mid the comforts of her boudoir and the ministrations of motley cronies, Elizabeth has a few bones to pick. There are the constant conspiracies and assassination attempts. There are the boob-lifts and leech-o-suction. But most of all, there’s the lack of sex – er – Essex, first name Robert, who holds her heart in his treacherous hands. It‘s not easy being Queen.
Set in Elizabeth’s boudoir, in the midst of political upheaval, the virgin Queen waits for the arrival of her lover, the Earl of Sussex, who is busily preparing for an attempted coup d’etat against the Queen. Haunted by her actions in the beheading of her cousin Mary Stuart, Elizabeth suspects everyone’s out to get her, even that "theatrical tub thumper" William Shakespeare who seems to be basing all of his plays on Elizabeth’s life. As well as meeting our decrees and dealing with affairs of state there is the small fact, almost by chance, that Elizabeth is a woman. And as such she calls on her grammer-lot speaking grotesque quack of an aid in the form of Dame GrossLady and her ever suffering maid Martha to assist her in her preparations.
In this audacious and deeply subversive act of “historical factionalism”, master Italian playwright, Nobel Prize winner and rabble rouser Dario Fo has created an Elizabeth of our nightmares – pompous and potty mouthed, paranoid and vein, desperate for love, obsessed with that annoying populist playwright “William Shakes–something” (who keeps writing scandalous plays all about her), riddled with small pox and certainly no virgin! Fo delivers one of his most brilliant and uninhibited rewritings of history reminding us that perhaps our favourite Monarch’s most notorious legacy is actually the modern Police State. One minute a mad burlesque, the next an unexpectedly poignant portrait of an ageing woman, but always speaking to the excesses of our age.
Dario Fo is a respected satirist, playwright, theatre director actor and composer and most characterized by his ability to use comedy and laughter as a weapon against conservative political establishments. He received the noble prize in literature in 1997 and his most famous works include Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Mistero Buffo, and Can’t Pay? Wion’ pay!
Luke Devenish (Fun and Games with the Oresteia) and Louise Fox (Tartuffe) have concocted a brilliant new translation true to the anarchic spirit of Dario Fo whose Elizabeth, Almost By Chance A Woman is one of the most unforgettable creations of modern theatre: a hell-raising tornado of paranoia, lust, vanity and giddy delight – with a mouth that would put a sailor to shame.
Michael Kantor directs a cast of Australia’s finest comic actors including Julie Forsyth (Happy Days) as Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I and Billie Brown (The Judas Kiss) as her attendant Grosslady. Together they blunder through the draughty corridors of power, intrigue, warfare and subterfuge – as well as a few beauty treatments along the way – in a new translation of Fo’s work by writers Louise Fox (Tartuffe) & Luke Devenish (Fun and Games with the Oresteia). This is an uproarious farce where the public, personal, and sexual politics of the Elizabethan court and The Globe Theatre tumble into our own Merlyn Theatre and the remarkably similar politics of our time.
Malthouse Theatre presents Elizabeth, Almost By Chance a Women by Dario Fo Translated by Luke Devenish & Louise Fox.
Merlyn Theatre, The CUB Malthouse.
2 April – 24 April. Opening night: Wednesday 7 April at 7.30pm. Season: Tuesday 6 April at 6.30 then Tuesdays at 7 Wednesday – Saturdays at 7.30pm, Sundays at 5.00pm; Matinees – Saturday 10 & 24 April at 2.00pm and Thursday 15 April at 1.00pm.
Ticket Prices: $16.50 – $49 + min booking fee $1.50
Booking info: www.malthousetheatre.com.au
More information about Malthouse Theatre can be found here: