theSpace on North Bridge – Perth Theatre
This new musical from Durham University’s Will Drake and Lauren Brewer is an exciting portrayal of Elizabeth I. Using rap, ballads, and hip hop, it tells the tale of the ‘Virgin Queen’ from a different perspective, questioning how women’s history is written, or rewritten. Its fast-paced lyrics use a very modern style of language that keeps the audience totally engaged throughout.
Lucie Fletcher as Queen Bess has a stunning voice, demonstrating brilliant riffs and belts across a range of genres. Meanwhile, Vivienne Shaw as Lettice brings emotion and anger to her ballads, perfectly complemented by a beautiful voice. As Robert and History, both Olly Stanton and Jacob Velluci are comedic, strong actors. They engage with Bess and Lettice using simple but effective movement and choreograph, and clever harmonies.
The Single Lady unravels the way in which women are often pitted against each other. Although the story predominantly focuses on the love triangle, or square, going on amongst these characters, the biggest takeaway is in the relationship between Elizabeth and Lettice, as their friendship is damaged by their love for Robert. They come to realise that it is seemingly the man’s prerogative to have multiple partners without shame or judgement from others, whilst women have to deal with constant scrutiny and double standards. The ending acts as a fantastic commentary on the way Elizabeth’s history is written in order to depict her as ‘the virgin queen’, portraying the personal sacrifices she makes as a monarch to protect her throne and her country.
The costumes in this production are particularly good, conveying the historical time period whilst also adding modern twists that suit the style of lyric and modern musical genres. They also allow a stage that uses minimal set and props to feel full and complete. This is equally helped by the effective lighting used to portray key moments and depict emotion and tone shifts throughout. The intimate venue works well, focusing the full breadth of the performers’ emotion and acting.
The Single Lady is an impressive new musical that evaluates the pressures of being a woman leader in a world built for men. It has lots of potential and is brilliantly performed by a small, talented cast, creative team and crew.