An Evening with Queen Victoria

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor Norwich Playhouse

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

> Norwich Playhouse

Prunella Scales, who along with husband Timothy West was one of the earliest patrons of the Norwich Playhouse project, was back in the theatre on Saturday with a show devoted to one of her favourite subjects – Queen Victoria.

Beginning as the aged queen a few days before her death in 1901, she was able to deftly switch into the persona of the young Princess Victoria.

The princess' cloistered (and claustrophobic) upbringing at Kensington Palace was to lead to the fateful morning in 1837 when, still clad in her dressing gown, the 18-year-old was told of her accession.

Running as a thread through the whole performance, of course, was Victoria's relationship with Albert – befitting for what is one of the great royal love stories of history.

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Their tentative courtship, her ardent love (she proposed to him) and their happy marital and family life were reflected with apposite extracts from diaries and letters. His death from typhoid sent the queen into seclusion, and Miss Scales was able to convey this sense of bleakness.

Perhaps we shouldn't have expected many new insights into someone who is such a well-known historical figure, but Miss Scales was able to show the interesting dichotomy between the Queen's classless opinions and the pride she felt when Disraeli thrust the (eagerly-welcomed) title of Empress of India on her shoulders.

Interwoven with her performance were songs and music from the tenor Ian Partridge, accompanied by Richard Burnett, which ranged from Rossini to Gilbert and Sullivan. The well-chosen selection even featured a song by Prince Albert himself.

On a summer night when the weather was balmy outside, three curtain calls were proof of an equally warm reception indoors.

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