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Elizabeth Rex [Paperback]

Timothy Findley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Based on the original stage production at the Stratford Festival of Canada, directed by Martha Henry. In this daring and original production of Timothy Findley's Governor-General Award winning play, William Shakespeare and the formidable Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, are brought together in a remarkable encounter on the night of April 22, 1616. The night the Queen's Lover will be executed, by the Queen's decree.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most haunting plays ever written... May 17 2001
Format:Hardcover
In 1601, Queen Elizabeth I was forced by duty to condemn to death a man widely believed to be her former lover. On the night before the execution, she demanded that William Shakespeare's acting troup, The Lord Chamberlain's Men, perform a play to distract her from the heartbreak that would occur in the morning. This much is truth. Timothy Findley takes these historical facts, blends in a few "what if's?" and creates a powerhouse play about men, women, fantasy, death, and ultimately, love.
After a performance of Much Ado About Nothing, Queen Elizabeth goes backstage to talk with the actors, and finds them all mourning the iminent death of the Beatrice of the evening, their terminally ill leading "lady," Ned. Ned has lived all his life as a woman, and does not know how to face his upcoming death with the courage of a man. Elizabeth, by contrast, has had to destroy her feminine side in order to rule England successfully. Realising this, the two strike a bargain: Ned will teach Elizabeth how to be a woman, if she can teach him how to be a man. What follows is a heartbreaking journey of self-discovery in which Elizabeth learns how to mourn, Ned learns how to die with grace and how to live with love, and William Shakespeare finds the greatest play never written.
This is an excellent choice for any Shakespeare fan, and for any lover of theatre. Powerful, enlightening, heartbreaking and uplifting, Elizabeth Rex is an exquisite journey for the heart, with beautiful dialogue, strong characters, and fascinating arguments. A must-read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The King and the Queen Oct. 20 2001
Format:Hardcover
Writing a "book" review on a play that one has not read may seem a bit presumptuous. However, my wife and I saw the US premier of this play at Houston's Stages Theater a few weeks ago and can attest that it is some of the finest entertainment we have seen in many a day. I hope that many people will read it, that college English classes will study it, and, most importantly, that numerous theater groups will stage it.
Historical. Hilarious. Poignant. An exhaustive list of appropriate adjectives would exceed Amazon's page limitations.
The play has a large cast of memorable characters including a semi-blind theater seamstress and a bear. The scene is a barn in England in 1601, and Queen Elizabeth seeks diversion from the impending beheading of her lover in the company of William Shakespeare and his band of actors. The dialogue is both scholarly and witty, with many echoes from Shakespeare's plays.
But the driving force for the drama is the point/counterpoint exchanges between "King" Elizabeth, who feels compelled to shirk her womanly feelings for the good of her country and the actor Ned, a 17th century drag-Queen. More than that I will not tell.
See it if you can, but, until it plays in your area, read the book.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most haunting plays ever written... May 17 2001
By Jena Tesse Fox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In 1601, Queen Elizabeth I was forced by duty to condemn to death a man widely believed to be her former lover. On the night before the execution, she demanded that William Shakespeare's acting troup, The Lord Chamberlain's Men, perform a play to distract her from the heartbreak that would occur in the morning. This much is truth. Timothy Findley takes these historical facts, blends in a few "what if's?" and creates a powerhouse play about men, women, fantasy, death, and ultimately, love.
After a performance of Much Ado About Nothing, Queen Elizabeth goes backstage to talk with the actors, and finds them all mourning the iminent death of the Beatrice of the evening, their terminally ill leading "lady," Ned. Ned has lived all his life as a woman, and does not know how to face his upcoming death with the courage of a man. Elizabeth, by contrast, has had to destroy her feminine side in order to rule England successfully. Realising this, the two strike a bargain: Ned will teach Elizabeth how to be a woman, if she can teach him how to be a man. What follows is a heartbreaking journey of self-discovery in which Elizabeth learns how to mourn, Ned learns how to die with grace and how to live with love, and William Shakespeare finds the greatest play never written.
This is an excellent choice for any Shakespeare fan, and for any lover of theatre. Powerful, enlightening, heartbreaking and uplifting, Elizabeth Rex is an exquisite journey for the heart, with beautiful dialogue, strong characters, and fascinating arguments. A must-read.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The King and the Queen Oct. 20 2001
By Andy Vickery - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Writing a "book" review on a play that one has not read may seem a bit presumptuous. However, my wife and I saw the US premier of this play at Houston's Stages Theater a few weeks ago and can attest that it is some of the finest entertainment we have seen in many a day. I hope that many people will read it, that college English classes will study it, and, most importantly, that numerous theater groups will stage it.
Historical. Hilarious. Poignant. An exhaustive list of appropriate adjectives would exceed Amazon's page limitations.
The play has a large cast of memorable characters including a semi-blind theater seamstress and a bear. The scene is a barn in England in 1601, and Queen Elizabeth seeks diversion from the impending beheading of her lover in the company of William Shakespeare and his band of actors. The dialogue is both scholarly and witty, with many echoes from Shakespeare's plays.
But the driving force for the drama is the point/counterpoint exchanges between "King" Elizabeth, who feels compelled to shirk her womanly feelings for the good of her country and the actor Ned, a 17th century drag-Queen. More than that I will not tell.
See it if you can, but, until it plays in your area, read the book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great way to learn about the consequences of advertising! May 12 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Library Binding
While doing a report on advertising, I came across this book and realized that it had enough information for my whole 4-page essay. "Advertising: Information or Manipulation?" talks about exactly what is promised in the title: the effects of advertising. This book address the title question from many angles: the effect on children, liquor and tobacco advertisments, and places that companies advertise to get you to notice their ad. This book is a must-read for anyone who needs any information on advertising for any reason, either for a school report or for launching a small business. This book was a lifesaver for me when I needed the information to complete my report, since all the information came from one, easy-to-understand, straighforward source.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great piece of theatre July 31 2010
By JBW - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Rex is a tremendously moving and thoughtful play. Timothy Findley's play is an overlooked gem that rarely gets its do in the United Stares.

Read it, but more importantly see it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflections of the Queen Oct. 17 2013
By Gary F. Taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Born in Canada, Timothy Findley (1930-2002) was the author of multiple novels and plays. His last completed work, ELIZABETH REX, was his most successful one. Opening at the Stratford Festival of Canada in 2000, it received extremely positive reviews. It has since been repeatedly performed throughout Canada and the United States, including productions in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, and Vancouver. It has also been performed in both Japan and Korea.

The play is a semi-fantasy in which Elizabeth, hoping to distract herself from the approaching execution of the Earl of Essex, has ordered Shakespeare and his players to perform the comedy Much Ado About Nothing. The play having ended, Shakespeare and the actors have retired to a barn on the estate--and are surprised when Elizabeth, anxious and restless, elects to join them for further distraction. In this era women were not allowed to perform on the stage, and Elizabeth meets several men who specialize in playing women's roles. Among these is Ned Lowenscroft, who suffers from an advanced stage of syphilis visited upon him by a lover, a solider who later died in Ireland.

As Shakespeare and the others watch, Elizabeth and Ned begin a strange verbal duel, in which Elizabeth admits that she has been required to behave as a man would in order to hold her throne and Ned freely admits that he has had to behave as a woman would in order to further his art. As their conversation progresses, Elizabeth both desires and rejects femininity, fearful that her passions as a woman and lover will cause her to pardon Essex and thereby bring ruin upon both herself and England. Ned is in a similar position, wishing to reject the femininity he plays so well on stage and yet afraid to do so lest he be unable to mourn the death of his lover. At the climax of the play these two characters shift into the roles of Elizabeth's Essex and Ned's Captain to play out their tragedies of personal loss--before reality forces them back into the role of Queen and Actor.

ELIZABETH REX is a strange play, very different from the likes of ELIZABETH AND ESSEX and other plays written on this subject. It is much more fluid in atmosphere and style, and it is less concerned with great language than with the creation of clearly defined characters and relationships. I found it a quick and easy read, and I would very much like to see it performed.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
For Lisa Marie Parker, who loaned the book to me.
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