Queen of the Mist at Charing Cross Theatre
Queen of the Mist explores the anxiety of wanting to be remembered and whether people have any influence over their destiny. This is a story about a woman who throws herself up against her greatest fears and grapples with desire for fame, power and greatness.
The play is based on the true story of Anna Edson Taylor, who in 1901 at 63 years old became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel of her own design. Through the palpitating physicality of the instruments’ swell, the production comes alive to envelop theatregoers in the immensity of the Falls and Anna’s ambition. The open-ended stage at Charing Cross Theatre elongates the actors’ movements in a way that allows them to reach out to the audience by melting together time and place. Their harmony of voices rise and fall with the characters’ hopes and fears and paint a picture of a time in history fraught with uncertainty. In particular, Trudi Camilleri shines as Anna with the resounding timbre of her voice.
However, a few moments in the piece also portray desperate attempts at humour through sexist punchlines. They seem out of place in this production that so loftily raises the quest of women’s liberation. When delivered as jokes for the audience, these lines do not reveal the plight of women to be recognised on equal terms as men, or the complexity of the character who speaks them. Instead, these throw-away lines undercut the play’s repeated standpoint in favour of uplifting women from the social and cultural norms that subjugate them. It’s as if all of Anna’s worries, fears and pride dissipate into the mist.
At first, the production’s ambition exceeds the theatre’s modest stage, but by the end, falters by shallow character exposition. Apart from the sometimes tactless dialogue, Queen of the Mist brings an intricate musical composition to life in a humanising story of self-determination.
Photo: Stephen Russell
Queen of the Mist is at Charing Cross Theatre from 15th August until 5th October 2019. Book your tickets here.
Watch the trailer for Queen of the Mist here: