VICTORIA’S KNICKERS by Josh Azouz

Published by Nick Herne Books 2018

ISBN – 978-1-84842-816-4

The title suggests humour, and this is born out as you get into the play and realise that the Victoria of the title is actually Queen Victoria, the dignified and formal monarch of the second half of the 19th century, to whom the word “knickers” seems alien.

The young Victoria is a central character in Josh Azouz’s play but most of the characters and the language used belong to the 21st century. The drama opens with Ed, an adventurous young man from Kilburn, climbing over the wall of Buckingham Palace and arriving in Victoria’s bedroom. Victoria finds Ed sitting on her throne; they start a conversation and begin to get to know each other. Next time they meet Ed takes Victoria to the pub.

The unlikely relationship develops until, on the eve of Victoria’s coronation, Ed is captured by the guards. There follows a series of brief and quite violent scenes, until Ed has to accept that Victoria will marry her cousin Albert.

It is a fast-moving play, with moments of humour, some revealing songs and also quite a lot of brutality. It was first performed by the National Youth Theatre and it is a script that could appeal to this age group, with opportunities for improvisation and imaginative staging, as well as some exploration of aspects of 19th century history, notably the Chartist movement. The use of colloquial 21st century language even by Victoria, her mother and courtier Conroy does not always work, though it can make you query how different these upper class people really are from the ordinary citizens. And perhaps this is what the author wants to share with the audience – whatever our background, we are all human and can experience the same emotions. An interesting quite challenging play for both performers and audience.

Mia Ball is an experienced teacher of A Level Drama and Theatre Studies and an adjudicator with the British and International Federation of Festivals.

Book Review – Victoria’s Knickers