Last U of R Theatre Department play of the season all about intrigue – lady intrigue
The U of R Theatre Department is set to produce their fourth and final production of the year, The Queens. It’s the fourth-year graduating class’ production, an accumulation of the knowledge that they’ve gained throughout their education thus far. And it aims to end the department’s production season on a high note. “There’s only six of us in the fourth year … they wanted to pick a play that would show our strengths well with only having the fourth-year class,” explained student-actress Elizabeth Malnyk.
The Queens is set in England in the late 14th century, during the reign of Richard III. While women living this time period were not the focus of society, they are the focus of the play.
“It’s set in the time of Richard III, and it’s about the women in this period and their ambition for the throne and power, and the behind-the-scenes and underhanded ways they go about it,” said Malynk, who plays Anne Warwick, wife of Richard III. “It’s all about their ambition and their searching and striving for power, essentially.”
The performance focuses not only on the women’s characters, but on the interactions between them as well. “That’s probably the most interesting thing about them – how these women act to one another; even the sisters in the play have a very odd relationship that you wouldn’t expect of sisters,” Malnyk said. “Seeing the relationships of all the women and how they go about attaining the power they want is very captivating”.
And part of what makes the play so compelling is the tension between the women. “[The Queens] has a fairly heightened mood. There’s a lot of conflicts between the different women … veiled in a graceful dignity and backhanded compliments and insults. I would say it has a fairly heightened yet … dreamlike and lethargic quality.”
There is a distinct factor of realism to the performance, with the costumes being “fairly historically accurate”, but Malnyk describes the play as a “fantasy drama”, meaning “the playwright is kind of recreating history and asking the question of, ‘What actually happened to these women?’ And this is one way of looking at what happened to them”.
It seems that The Queens utilizes many juxtapositions – dreams and reality, tension and lethargy, grace and insults. Moreover, Malnyk believes there will be two types of audience members who leave the theatre at the end of the evening, those who understood and those that did not.
“There will be two different takes of this; some people will understand everything that is going on and think it’s amazing, and other people might not understand every single everything that’s going on all the time but will still be enthralled by it, and even though they don’t know what’s going on all the time, they won’t care because it draws you in so much. [The production] is like a dream – in dreams there are moments of clarity where things are very clear and very distinct, and there’s times when everything is a little wavery and doesn’t make sense, but in your mind at the time, it makes perfect sense.”
A unique feature of The Queens is the set-up of the stage. This particular production will bridge the gap between a fourth-wall style play and theatre in-the-round. Depending on where one is situated in the audience may also influence the way one views the characters and actions on stage.
“The stage setting is going to be very interesting because it is set in an alley, so there’s the audience on both sides of the action; depending on where you sit, you can get a very different view of the play because you’ll be able to see different people. As well, even when characters aren’t on stage, they’re hovering and listening and behind the audience itself, so you get that feeling of always being surrounded by people and never being alone … there could always be people listening or ghosting about. You’re never completely alone, and you’re never completely safe.”
Whether you think you’ll an audience member who can follow the action or not, don’t miss out on the Theatre Department’s final show this year. Performances start with a student matinee on the March 29, and evening showings run from March 30 until April 2. Oh, and did we mention that it’s free with your student ID?