Helen Edmundson’s acclaimed play Queen Anne opened at the Swan Theatre in 2015 before moving to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited run in 2017.
Directed by Natalie Abrahami, Queen Anne ran in the 2015/6 winter season in Stratford-upon-Avon before going to London with a slightly different cast.
The play tells the story of Queen Anne and her close friend Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, exploring their relationship as Anne prepares to take the throne and in the early years of her reign.
Cast and Creatives
Cast for the London show
Daisy Ashford - Lady Clarendon
Sheena Bhattessa - Lady Somerset
Gabrielle Brooks - Jezebel / Lady Russell
Jonathan Christie - Arthur Maynwaring
Emma Cunniffe - Queen Anne
Michael Fenton Stevens - Dr John Radcliffe
Dave Fishley - King William III / Groom
Romola Garai - Sarah Churchill
James Garnon - Robert Harley
Jonny Glynn - Jonathan Swift
Richard Hope - Sidney Godolphin
Hywel Morgan - Prince George of Denmark
Chu Omambala - John Churchill
Beth Park - Abigail Hill
Carl Prekopp - Daniel Defoe
Sid Sagar - Inns of Court Singer / Colonel Masham
Natalie Abrahami - Director
Hannah Clark - Designer
Charles Balfour - Lighting
Ben & Max Ringham - Music and Sound
Anna Morrissey - Movement
Cast for Stratford-upon-Avon
May of the cast members and creatives were the same for the performances at the Swan Theatre, but there were some differences:
Jonathan Broadbent - Robert Harley | Robert Cavanah - John Churchill | Daniel Easton - Inns of Court Singer / Colonel Masham | Natascha McElhone - Sarah Churchill | Carl Prekopp - William III | Jenny Rainsford - Jezebel / Lady Russell | Elliott Ross - Jack Churchill | Anna Tierney - Lady Somerset | Tom Turner - Jonathan Swift | Ragevan Vasan - Groom
Ann Yee was the creative team member for Movement during this production.
Queen Anne tells the story of one of England’s little-known sovereigns, her friendship with Sarah Churchill and the birth of the free press in England at the turn of the 18th century.
Princess Anne has been plagued by ill health all her life and, despite 17 pregnancies, has produced no heirs with her husband, Prince George of Denmark. The union of King William III and Anne’s sister Queen Mary was also childless, leaving Anne in succession for the throne. The play opens with a searing performance of a song satirising current political events penned by a group of satirists whose influence grows throughout the play.
With the death of King William in 1702, Anne becomes Queen. England is at war and in a Grand Alliance with the Protestant nations against the Catholic Spanish and French sovereigns to prevent ‘The Pretender’ King Louis’ dominance in Europe.
Grieving for her recently deceased father and the loss of what would be her final pregnancy, Anne’s close advisors seek to influence the seemingly meek and vulnerable Anne from all corners. Sarah Churchill, her intimate friend since childhood, is granted key positions in the Royal Household and seeks to advise and manipulate Anne to further her own political agenda and career as well as that of her husband, the Duke of Marlborough. Lord Chancellor Goldolphin and Sarah’s husband Marlborough (trusted Commander-in-Chief of the allied forces) exert pressure to their own ends.
Anne begins to understand her power as she becomes increasingly involved and informed in political matters. Sarah pushes the Whig agenda that supports her husband’s wars, but Anne is drawn to advisors who share her religious views and support a strong monarchy. As a result, her friendship with Sarah starts to unravel and Anne begins to find new allies. Sarah fears she is being replaced in Anne’s affection by a new member of the royal household, Abigail Hill, adding personal tension to the political difference between them.
As tensions rise, Godolphin is dismissed by Anne and Sarah turns to the ruthless, increasingly bold satirists for help. Prince George dies. Despite a string of notable victories led by the Duke of Marlborough, including at Blenheim, Anne uncovers his betrayal and suspends him from his position.
Sarah and the Duke of Marlborough are dismissed from court and retreat to Europe as Anne brokers peace, finding her voice as Queen.