E. Bonnie Lewis in one of her many robes as Margaret of Anjou in Jinny Webber’s <em>Queen Undaunted</em>.

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E. Bonnie Lewis in one of her many robes as Margaret of Anjou in Jinny Webber’s Queen Undaunted.

Queen Undaunted: Margaret of Anjou at Center Stage Theater

Shakespeare’s Fiery Queen Gets Her Own Show on Friday, September 23

The subject of this scintillating one-woman show, deftly acted by the talented E. Bonnie Lewis, is Margaret of Anjou, the French wife of King Henry VI of England and the woman who is held partly responsible for England’s devastating 15th-century period of civil war, the conflict known to history as the Wars of the Roses. Jinny Webber’s script takes off from the huge dramatic arc described by Margaret in Shakespeare’s three Henry VI plays, in which she is a principal character, and from Shakespeare’s Richard III, in which she appears as an old woman and antagonist to the title figure. Webber succeeds admirably in condensing and organizing these prolix and challenging early works of Shakespeare in such a way as to give a well-rounded account of an alternately monstrous and majestic woman. Margaret’s enemy, Richard of York, described her aptly in Henry VI, Part 3 with one of Shakespeare’s most vivid images: “O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide!”

Alone on a stage with four cross-shaped metal clothing racks, a diaphanous curtain, and a series of red and purple robes, E. Bonnie Lewis chanted and whirled and danced her way through the fearsome life of this proto-Lady Macbeth. While the tragic death of her only son on the field of battle elicits some sympathy for the doting Margaret, more often than not she thwarts identification by indulging her propensity for cursing and revenge. This woman “undaunted” would appear to be the queen who coined the phrase “off with his head!”

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