Victoria Regina

Definition

Theater

  • A series of one-act plays by Laurence Housman (1865 - 1959),dealing with the reign of Queen Victoria. Housman, the brother ofthe poet A. E. Housman, wrote and published some 30 plays about thequeen but the Lord Chamberlain consistently banned them from publicperformance. In 1935 a selection was privately performed at the GateTheatre, London, under the title of Victoria Regina with PamelaStanley playing the queen.

    A Broadway production opened the same year at the BroadhurstTheatre, starring Helen Hayes in the title role. She wonthe Drama League of New York Medal for her performance and continuedto play the part, which she based on her Victorian grandmother, forthree years. The role required her to age from 18 to over 80, leadingthe critic Brooks Atkinson to write:

    The girlish innocence, the eager propriety of her wooingof Albert, the unaffected joy of her devotion to him, her pettishanger when her authority was challenged, the moving humility of hersurrender from queen to wife, her courage and her simplicity wereparts of a memorable stage composition.
    In 1936 Edward VIII intervened personally to ensure that theplay was granted a licence for public performance in Britain. It wasproduced in 1937 at the Lyric Theatre with Pamela Stanley once morein the lead.
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