Posts Tagged ‘john rodgers


Tonight! Elizabeth, almost by chance a woman…

Queensland Theatre Company

Opening officially tonight, for a four-week season at the Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland Theatre Company presents a new translation from Nobel prize-winning Italian playwright Dario Fo, of the fabulous monstrosity which is Elizabeth, almost by chance a woman starring Carol Burns in the lead.

This is not the 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.

An ailing Elizabeth clings desperately to her throne and her sanity. She hasn’t slept for 11 days and to make matters worse, her love, The Earl of Sussex, is busy in an attempted coup d’état against her.  There are boob lifts and leech-o-suctions, ripping bodices, hearts held in treacherous hands, assassination attempts and constant conspiracies. Elizabeth suspects everyone is out to get her, even William Shakespeare, who in her mind, seems to be basing all of his plays on her life. And then there’s that ghost of her beheaded cousin Mary Stuart. It’s not easy being Queen.

Inspired by historical accounts, and drawing on all the energy and spirit of original commedia dell’arte, ‘historical factionalist’ and Master Italian playwright Dario Fo has created an Elizabeth of our nightmares – pompous, potty mouthed, paranoid and certainly no virgin!

Wesley Enoch, QTC Artistic Director, and Director of this comic gem, says Nobel Prize Winner Dario Fo has drawn on the spirit and spontaneity of original 16th century commedia dell’arte, to offer up a modern stage masterpiece. His works are often translated into other languages with a local twist, and such is the case in this new adaptation of Elizabeth: almost by chance a woman (1984), by Luke Devenish and Louise Fox for Queensland Theatre Company.“Although the obvious route to take would be to draw on Elizabeth’s ‘accidental’ throning, Dario instead draws on her womanhood as the quirk of fate,” he said. “He paints an all-too-human portrait of Elizabeth, as frightened, flawed, ferociously foul-mouthed, and quite unlike any other version seen of the Virgin Queen.”

Starring Logie award-winning Carol Burns as Elizabeth in her final hours of life, this farcical and yet strangely moving production is at once a gloriously wicked satire on the insanities of power, and a paean to human mortality. Its equal parts a bawdy burlesque, riotous nosethumbing of authority, and a surprisingly touching insight into the challenges of womanhood.

Warning: there is some incredibly naughty language in this production – 52 f***s and 4 c***s

Elizabeth – almost by chance a woman

by Dario Fo

26 May – 24 June

Brisbane Powerhouse

Directed by Wesley Enoch

Featuring Carol Burns, Eugene Gilfedder, Jason Klarwein, Dash Kruck

Sarah Kennedy, John Rodgers

Monarch. Maiden. Superfreak.


For those who didn’t pay attention at school… 

Elizabeth 1 – her accession to the throne:

–       Elizabeth was born with an older sister, Mary, who was an illegitimate child due to Henry having annulled his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

–       This means Elizabeth is the legitimate heir to the throne at this point…

–       However, when Elizabeth was two years old, Ann Boleyn, her mother, was beheaded, and therefore giving Elizabeth the status of an illegitimate child also.

–       A year later, Henry remarried and produced a male heir, Edward.

–       Edward became King at age nine, after Henry died.

–       Edward died at age 15 – leaving Elizabeth and Mary (his half sisters) out of his will – he excluded them from being able to succeed the crown.

–       He appointed someone else, who soon lost public support.

–       Mary then came along to succeed the crown, with Elizabeth at her side.

–       Mary jailed Elizabeth some time later, for suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.

–       Mary later died and Elizabeth succeeded the crown.

–       All this before Elizabeth had turned 25, at which age she became Queen!


Writer, Actor, Director and living Master of World Theatre          

Dario Fo (1926 -) is a recognised master in world theatre, and is reputedly the most performed living playwright of the last 40 years. His works draw heavily from the Italian commedia dell’arte tradition – a vibrant, improvisational style of theatre popular in the Renaissance, where troupes of actors would travel the country providing free entertainment, relying largely on donations to survive. Their performances would combine instantly recognisable stock characters and familiar storylines with topical additions and local references to add some spice for audiences.

Inspired by the circus and carnivals, his theatre uses slapstick, puns, ridicule and parody to explore social and political issues and to criticize authority of all kinds. Fo’s politics lean decidedly to the left and his works are highly critical of those elements in society who abuse their power: politicians, royalty, the upper class, the church.  In 1997 he famously received the Nobel Prize for Literature for “emulating the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”

Outside of his home country of Italy, it is perhaps his 1970 work Accidental Death of an Anarchist which has brought him most recognition. But within Italy, he is best known for his legendary production of Mistero Buffo, in which he also performed, and which enjoyed an astonishing 5000 performances. The play, a satirical take on the medieval mystery plays, once aired on television and was labeled by the Vatican as “the most blasphemous show ever transmitted.”

In keeping with the commedia dell’arte tradition, and with Fo’s approval, his works are often translated into other languages with a modern local twist, and such is the case in this new adaptation of Elizabeth: almost by chance a woman (1984), by Luke Devenish and Louise Fox for Queensland Theatre Company.