The Regina Monologues springs Tudor Queens into the modern day in Maltings Theatre show
- Credit: Archant
The Maltings Theatre is continuing their autumn programme with a run of The Regina Monologues.
After a series of successful shows since the theatre opened its doors to the public at the start of October, The Maltings opened The Regina Monologues last night (October 27): a modern re-imagining of the six wives of Henry VIII.
The fast-paced topical rendition is directed by Anna Franklin, who said: “We were scheduled to perform The Regina Monologues just before lockdown, so we put the production on ice for a few months, defrosted it recently and gave it a few topical ingredients as well as a good shake ‘n’ stir so it’s ready for its close-up on the Maltings stage.
“It’s about six women who have all been married to the same man called Henry, and is set in the bedroom that they’ve all occupied over the years.
“Their individual stories mirror their Tudor counterparts and are richly woven with in-jokes; for example one story told about Anne of Cleves is that Henry VIII fell in love with her portrait but when she arrived at court she looked somewhat different; in our story Anne’s looking for a man online and slightly misrepresents herself.”
As well as directing the performance, Anna also stars: “I’m playing Katherine Parr, about whom we don’t hear very much, but she was a fascinating character: she was the first English queen to publish a book under her own name; in our version she’s a professional widow who’s had a suspicious number of older husbands who have left her all their money!”
The Regina Monologues springs the stories of long-gone queens into the modern day, and brings the highs and lows of modern-day relationships into the limelight.
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“We’ve also got a fabulous soundtrack with tracks by Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, and I think the show will have massive female appeal with its comedy and its universal references to women’s issues,” she adds, but also wants to encourage men to come along.
Speaking after opening night, Anna added: “There were a few nerves beforehand.
“The other five queens hadn’t been in front of an audience for such a long time, so there was a certain amount of trepidation.
“As I said to them in my pep talk before the show, everyone out there in the auditorium really wants to be there.
“Anyone who makes the effort to go to the theatre in the current climate really wants to see the show.
“People still have to make that leap and put their trust in us to look after them, and they’ve done that. In my experience, that makes for a particularly special relationship between the audience and the players.
“You’re all there together and you’ve all made a real effort to make live theatre happen. It makes it such a special experience, having that extra effort that everyone’s gone to.”
Although this incarnation of The Regina Monologues sees producer Anna also star as Parr, she played the Anne Boleyn character in the shows original run 15 years ago.
“I always fancied a go at Parr – I’d have a go at any one of them actually, because this is one of those plays where every single part is brilliant.
“I always really enjoyed the part of Parr, because she’s obviously a horrible person, but you really enjoy her and you need somebody to get one over on Henry at the end, because he’s treated all these women so dreadfully!”
Holding all her past and present cast members in high regard, Anna concluded that she’s thrilled to have the show up and running: “I think half the girls didn’t believe we’d actually get there to the opening night, because we thought we’d be locked down by now and it wouldn’t happen again,” she said, as the show was originally set to hit the stage as lockdown hit in March.
“It’s really nice to have that feeling of finally having put it on the stage after all the work that we’ve done on it. Now it can have its run.
“It’s such a gorgeous play. I’ve always loved it and it’s always had a special place in my heart.”
The Regina Monologues runs until October 31, and is followed by On Behalf of a Madman, Express G&S, Trestle and Virgina Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own.