Luke Devenish

Julie Forsyth as Elizabeth

(Malthouse Theatre)


Almost by Chance a Woman

By Dario Fo

Translated & freely adapted by

Luke Devenish & Louise Fox

Inspired by historical accounts, this adaptation of Dario Fo's play takes place during Queen Elizabeth's final hours on earth. For eleven days she has "refused to be prone", in mortal horror of her bed. She fears that if she lays her broken body upon the sheets she will not rise again. By this, the twelfth day of refusal, she is mad.

Everything is seen from Elizabeth's cracked point of view, conjured up in her head. She is haunted by memories and gripped by paranoid delusions. She believes that William Shakespeare has channeled the events of her life into every one of his plays. But her facade of outrage at this notion is shaky. She is secretly thrilled at the thought, believing that the immortality of Gloriana is assured, tricked up as the star of his shows.

Consumed by misconception, Elizabeth sees a world that resembles the Globe Theatre. What's more, her subconscious has conjured up Shakespeare in person to both torment and beautify her.

Frightened, flawed, ferociously foul-mouthed, and quite unlike any other version of the Virgin Queen in popular culture, this all too human portrait of Elizabeth - wildly veering from outrageous to heartbreaking in turns - is what makes Fo's play such a true comic gem.

Listen to Luke Devenish talking about Elizabeth on Jon Faine's Conversation Hour, along with Felicity Ward and Adam Zwar, ABC Radio 774 Melbourne here. (Jump forward 20 minutes for Luke.)

"This adaptation by Louise Fox and Luke Devenish is lovely, squalid fun."

The Age Melbourne Magazine

"I recommend Elizabeth to audiences young and old: the young will be entertained and the old will remember the good old days when theatre was about politics and sex and shocked you awake, bare arses, swear words and all!"

"Kantor's production is stunning: surely one of the most visually luscious works you'll see on stage this year, it achieves a classic simplicity that is unexpectedly faithful to the spirit of Fo."
The Australian

"Less Shakespeare in Love or a Cate Blanchett opus than the Farrelly brothers filling a textbook with poo jokes... Like the best of the Commedia dell'Arte."

Sunday Herald Sun