Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was one of the most famous women of medieval Europe, and the richest woman of her time, becoming Queen of France as the wife of Louis VII and, then, England as the wife of Henry II. Among her eight children were the future kings Richard (‘the Lionheart’) and John, infamous for the signing of the Magna Carta.
92-year-old Eileen Page brings this incredible woman to life in this one-woman show, written by Catherine Muschamp. Speaking to us from her throne, Eleanor tells us of her life, her childhood and her two marriages, her resentment of her second husband’s dalliance with Rosamund Clifford, the murder of Thomas Beckett and the intrigues she practised with her children that got her imprisoned for fourteen years. Along the way she maintains a belief in the equality of men and women; whether this proto-feminist attitude is dramatic licence or not, it certainly seems to have been borne out in Eleanor’s life.
Page’s performance is a masterclass of acting: she grabs our attention and maintains it throughout the show, exuding class and power. A memorable experience.