“I’d rather walk in blood than walk a slave for he thy Emperor!”
For every Blue Stockings, there’s been a Pitcairn, with a Bedlam inbetween. No matter the AD, the commitment to new writing in the later part of the summer season at Shakespeare’s Globe has thrown a marked inconsistency. And Tristan Bernays’ Boudica proves no different, given an ambitious production by Eleanor Rhode which strives a little too hard to situate the play in an Emma Rice house-style, fun as it may come across.
So Game of Thrones-style storytelling mashes up against spirited covers of the likes of ‘London Calling’ and ‘I Fought The Law’, a great sense of energy percolating through this wooden O. But Bernays’ play doesn’t always fit easily with this treatment, written in blank verse that has to balance the required info-dump to flesh out this historical fiction with something more fascinatingly insightful about what might have driven the Queen of the Iceni.
And regardless of superbly self-possessed and powerful Gina McKee comes across as this totemic figure uniting tribal Britain against the invading Roman hordes, it is hard not to feel that the potential of Boudica as a character goes untapped. For all the contrast between rival tribe leaders (Forbes Masson and Abraham Popoola) and also between her daughters (Natalie Simpson and Joan Iyiola), Boudica’s central character remains too vague to do her justice.