Charing Cross Theatre, London – until 28 September 2019
Pint of Wine’s production of Michael John LaChiusa’s Queen of the Mist transfers from the Brockley Jack Studio to the traverse stage of the Charing Cross Theatre, keeping its original cast in tact.
As I have said previously, Queen of the Mist is a refreshing tale about an older woman (Anna Edson Taylor was in her 60s when she became the first person to survive the Niagara Falls) but also a timely tale about celebrity in the modern age. Edson Taylor, played by the excellent, Trudi Camilleri, has no talent, just a combination of luck and an understanding of what she needs to do to survive. The fickleness of fame is apparent as her feat becomes forgotten and other people manage to survive.
I felt the relationship and chemistry between Edson Taylor and her manager Frank Russell (Will Arundell). Whilst there isn’t a romantic love there is strong sense of mutual care, in deep conflict of their love of infamy and cash money. Ultimately what draws them together causes them to fall about. Russell’s lack of morals becoming apparent when he employs a lush (played brilliantly by Emily Juler) to pretend to be Edson Taylor.
Ultimately Edson Taylor is a grifter; not afraid to cut people off who don’t indulge her love of the high life like her sister Jane (Juler). Maybe it is the new staging, but Anna’s loneliness feels even more apparent especially in the second half. She’s at her best when she is at her most ruthless, hissing at Emma Ralston’s Carrie Nation. They may appear to have difference priorities but both women’s first love is ‘The Green’.
There is great support from all the cast. Conor McFarlane as William McKinley’s killer whose actions remind Edson Taylor that even the ultimate infamy doesn’t last forever, with Tom Blackmore and Andrew Carter in a variety of roles.
As a production it gets to essence of early Twentieth century American with Set Design by Tara Usher and Costume Design from Lemington Ridley giving a real sense of time and place. DomO’Hanlon has adapted this piece to fill the large stage and it suits the space, it is a big story to tell.
Queen of the Mist is on at the Charing Cross Theatre until 28 September. Tickets from £22 https://charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/theatre/queen-of-the-mist