I saw the play Emilia yesterday, and my god am I glad I did. I noticed the reviews, (twitter is normally where I keep up with these things) and noticed it was at The Globe Theatre, but I never got to see it there, despite all the buzz around it. Then it transferred to the West End and so I booked last week to go this week. The play follows the journey of poet Emilia Bassano, who was apparently quite close to Shakespeare in the 1600’s, but also a writer in her own right who never quite found the means, and follows her journey through the times. I’ve read reviews saying that some of the claims the play makes about her life are quite contentious, but I’m not too worried by that personally (others have made the same claims too).
What was most interesting to me about the play, aside from some of the cast being disabled – and in quite prominent roles too
is that it used a lot of narration to tell the story, which makes me quite happy.
My first play was a one man play, so it was all narration, and then in developing my play The 49, it was a mix of narration and scenes. My new play, which I’ve called Comfort In The Voices Of Me, is all scenes. Writing the early drafts were a bit like pulling teeth, because I often struggle with writing long scenes, especially coming from a film background. But seeing Emilia, which filled my heart with joy and made me very happy, for various reasons, was a mix of both narrating directly to the audience and scenes. There were also three actors playing Emilia, at different ages, and they were also introduced at the beginning of the play. I’d love to go much more in depth in to the different types of theatre, particularly in relation to narrating directly to an audience vs not doing it. There’s no reason for narration in any play with more than one actor, but I like using it as a style, and Emilia used the technique very effectively and was equally as entertaining.
I do hope the play gets another run soon. If it goes on tour I’m definitely seeing it again.
Emilia was on at The Globe before transferring to Vaudeville Theatre until 1st June, and is written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm.