Elizabeth Rex

Elizabeth Rex

Audiobook CD - 2001
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In this daring original production of Timothy Findley's Governor-General Award winning play, William Shakespeare and the formidable Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, are brought together in a remarkable encounter on the night of April 22, 1616.This play was produced in the CBC Broadcast Centre's Glenn Gould Theatre. It features professional actors, sound effects, and original music and is performed in front of a live audience.
Publisher: Toronto : Canadian Broadcasting Corp., c2001.
ISBN: 9780660185354
Branch Call Number: 819.254 F 3701 1
Characteristics: 2 sound discs (ca. 2 hr., 10 min.)


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Jun 10, 2010

This is a CBC Radio production of the play that asks the not-at-all musical question: "Does a gay guy who plays women on stage really know more about being a woman than an actual woman?" The answer, of course, is heck, no! Gay men are not transsexuals; they are men, and they understand as men. This play is actually rather a good illustration of this.

I once saw this on CBC television. Well, glimpsed actually, it was done with an all-male cast and bored me to tears. This production, directed by the distinguished Canadian actor Martha Henry, has the plus of featuring three roles for older female actors, rare indeed.

Set in a barn, the dying Shakespeare recalls another barn back in 1603 on the night between Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. A younger Shakespeare and a not-so-merry band of players spend the hours after a performance of Twelfth Night in the company of the ancient Queen Elizabeth I, awaiting the cannon-fire that will signal the execution of the Earl of Essex.

My elder daughter studied this as part of her AP Grade Twelve literature course. Times have changed. There is no way I would have been permitted to study something like this in high school. Full of death, dying, sexual innuendo and ambiguity, I wonder what a class of seventeen-year-olds was able to make of the tale, told by and about much older people who, unlike teenagers (no matter how jaded), have done much and seen more. Much of the play concerns a confrontation between Elizabeth and player-of-female-roles Ned Lowenscroft who is dying of the pox. It's a clash of arrogance against arrogance. Elizabeth believes she knows about being a man (hence "Elizabeth Rex") and Lowenscroft thinks he can instruct Elizabeth in being a woman.

It's a bit over-the-top, but that's an acting community for you. It is cleverly done and not soon forgotten.

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