Queen Elizabeth I
About This Play
The year is 1559 and England is in turmoil. The "burning queen," Mary, has just died. Her half sister, Elizabeth, is 25, untested, and dangerously caught between Catholic and Reformer, factions who see in her inexperience a chance to seize power. Catholics are apt to think of Elizabeth as illegitimate because her mother was Henry VIII's second wife and therefore Henry could not ever have really married her mother. There is danger that the country will dissolve into civil war. To marry, therefore, Elizabeth to a Catholic sovereign in Europe seems the most logical and easiest solution and her advisors now surround the young queen with advice to marry a France or Spain. Elizabeth rebels. She hesitates and toys with Robert Lord Dudley who many think is her lover. Into this desperate situation come the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk who see an instability which may provide chance for them to seize the throne. On the sidelines, but ever present at the Queen's shoulder is Robert Courtenay, Earl of Devon, a man who loves Elizabeth as the brightest mind in all of Europe, Murder is in the air, and heads are threatened. It is agreed, at last, that Elizabeth shall marry depending upon the outcome of a great wager between herself and the Duke of Norfolk. The wager shall be determined by the artistry in a stage play to be written by one Sir John Josh Falsteare, a wag, a scoundrel, and the wisest fool of them all. The Norfolks scheme and plot, Dudley, flies his banner in ever changing winds and Courtenay tries to make his case with deception. Falsteare's play provides the stage upon which all these conflicts come to tragic conclusion.