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Ravensbury Players - Crown Matrimonial

20th to 23rd November 2002 at Ramsbury Memorial Hall

This is the Newbury Weekly News review.

Royal battle of wills

'Crown Matrimonial' performed by Ravensbury Players, at the Memorial Hall, Ramsbury, from Wednesday 20th to Saturday 23rd November

The future King falls in love with a divorcee and incurs the Queen's displeasure - sounds familiar, doesn't it, but this is the 1936 version with Edward VIII and Queen Mary. The story of the abdication is well known, but Royce Rynton's play gives a different view of it, with Queen Mary at the centre of events, and Wallis Simpson not appearing. This intriguing play covers a few months in late 1936, with a postscript in 1945, and demands very strong performances from the two main characters, Queen Mary and her son David.

Cora Jackson gave a very different portrayal of the Queen from our usual perception, showing her as a softer, more approachable person, perhaps not as regal as she should have been but with an iron will when it came to fighting for what she considered right. Harvey Fremlin was excellent as David, bringing out clearly his stubbornness, charm and determination.

The play got off to a slow, rather stilted start, but it improved after the first scene, with the authority of the Queen and David growing steadily. In the supporting cast, Jessica Perkins had a strong stage presence and regal bearing as the Princess Royal, Penny Setter was lively and waspish as Elizabeth, and Tim Beckwith, as a rather older Bertie, gave a very good transition from the anguish and indecisiveness of the Duke of York to the dignity and composure of King George. The scene where the Queen tells Bertie his strengths and weaknesses was particularly moving. Gaye Adolph as Margaret got the right level of upper-class frostiness. All the cast worked well together with good use of facial expressions and eye contact.

The set was spacious and well decorated, and the cast made full use of it. The costumes were lavish and well suited to the piece. 

The final scene, nine years later, which turns into a battle of wills between David, wanting to return to England, and Queen Mary, determined to keep him out but torn by her love for him, was extremely well done and gave a most poignant finish to this play, well directed by Sheila Hobbs.