Queen Margaret at the Royal ExchangeKristy Stott, Theatre Editor
We’re particularly excited that Manchester’s Royal Exchange has announced another inventive and imaginative season. This Autumn/ Winter 2018-2019 season the Royal Exchange reimagines some of the most epic stories and celebrated pieces of drama, making them relevant for a contemporary audience. Drawing on an incredible array of artists from across Manchester and beyond, the season launches with the extraordinary and thrilling story of Queen Margaret.
Written by Jeanie O’Hare, Queen Margaret is a new work which draws on four of Shakespeare’s history plays – the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III – to retell the Wars of the Roses through the eyes of Margaret of Anjou, the formidable wife of King Henry VI.
Shakespeare actually wrote more lines for Queen Margaret than he did for King Lear, yet she’s a character that we know less about. Dubbed the She-Wolf of France, Queen Margaret guided England through the treacherous days during the fifteenth-century civil war. With historical backing, writer Jeanie O’Hare re-acquaints us with Margaret of Anjou by drawing on Shakespeare’s original language, her letters and other civil war sources.
Angered by their King and with a hunger for power, the men of Henry VI’s court plot and conspire against each other. As the King wavers and the factions split we witness Queen Margaret, wife and mother, become a politician and a determined warrior. Exercising all of the power and influence the throne of England can offer, Margaret is resolute in protecting the crown that will one day belong to her son.
Directed by Elizabeth Freestone, Queen Margaret gives audiences the chance to view an iconic moment of British history from the perspective of the major, though rarely performed, persona of Margaret of Anjou. With the acclaimed Jade Anouka in the title role, we absolutely cannot wait to witness the tumultuous reign of King Henry VI from the viewpoint of this determined and dangerous woman.