Sex, Lies and a Dirty Duchess: Queen Anne is the latest unmissable RSC West End transfer.

The latest achievement by The Royal Shakespeare Company is making its highly anticipated move to London. Here is some background on the story behind the play, the author and the production.

The Author

Helen Edmundson, Queen Anne’s playwright, has previously said of her own work: “I usually write about women in very confining situations, who are misunderstood”. In this context, it is easy to understand why Anne was her monarch of choice.

The History

Anne’s father, James II and VI, caused furore by proclaiming himself Catholic and marrying a commoner, Anne Hyde. They had eight children, but Anne (born in 1665) and her sister Mary were the only ones to survive, in a time of smallpox epidemic, which marked most of Anne’s life. Anne’s mother died when she was 6 years old and, a few years later, her father married Mary of Modena, 13 years old at the time, whom he introduced to his daughters with the words: “I have brought you a new play-fellow”.

Anne then became acquainted to Sarah Jennings in 1671, who became her close friend and one of her most influential advisors. Anne’s marriage was arranged to George of Denmark by her father to balance his dislike of her sister’s Dutch husband William of Orange. Sarah was then appointed one of Anne’s ladies of bedchamber and later on married the influential General John Churchill, who was the centre of political tensions in the kingdom.

Anne’s adulthood and family life was marked by her religious differences with her father (her being protestant), disease (which caused her 12 miscarriages and the death of all her children), her alliance to her sister during the Glorious Revolution (when her brother-in-law William of Orange invaded Britain and claimed the Throne) and her enduring friendship with the general’s wife.  

The Play

The plot is based on Anne’s close relationship with Sarah during the various stages of her life and where it leads to. It is about women, power, religion and politics. It takes from history a mysterious character and imagines her personal life as a vulnerable, yet powerful, woman and the intentions of the people around her.

Queen Anne played in the RSC’s Swan Theatre in 2015-16 and received great critical acclaim. It was reviewed by The Guardian as a ‘fascinating, fast moving production‘. It will transfer to the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London from 30 June – 30 September 2017.

Helen Edmundson’s previous writing for the stage includes Therese Raquin (starring Kiera Knightley) and Coram Boy (NT). Helen was awarded the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for drama in 2015.

Starring Emma Cunnife as Queen Anne and Romola Garai as Sarah.

For tickets and more info about the show, visit the show page on our website here..

About the Cast:

Emma Cunniffe (Queen Anne)
Emma will be familiar to TV audiences for her work in Clocking Off, Waterloo Road and Doctor Who. On stage, she has won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in The Master Builder at the UK Theatre Awards and was a What’s On Stage nominee for her role as Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible.

Romola Garai (Duchess of Marlborough)
Romola’s career launched with a bang way back in the 2000 film The Last of the Blonde Bombshells, where she played Judi Dench’s character as a young woman. Since then, she has appeared in numerous films including Atonement and Suffragette, with her work earning plaudits including Best Actress nominations for the Evening Standard British Film Awards, BAFTA TV Awards and a double Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress in a Miniseries/TV Film.