Serving Elizabeth

Written by:

Marcia Johnson

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:

Black

Cast Size:
10

Roles For:

  • LGBTQ+: 2
  • Men: 4
  • People of Colour: 6
  • Women: 6

Genre:

Comedy
Drama
Historical

Themes:

Africa
Black History
British History
Colonialism
History
Inclusion
Race
Royalty

Length:

90 min.

Year Written:

2018

Synopsis:

Serving Elizabeth is inspired by an episode of the first season of the Netflix series The Crown. This beautiful depiction of the life of the current queen of England was, at the time, the most expensive series that Netflix had ever produced. Marcia Johnson was impressed that the production traveled to Africa for a key moment before Princess Elizabeth became queen.

Serving Elizabeth is Marcia’s attempt to give voice to British subjects in Africa who were relegated to the background in the Netflix series. The play is set in Kenya in 1952 where a cook and vehement anti-monarchist is offered an exorbitant fee to cook for the visiting princess. It is also set in 2015 in London during the making of a mini-series about the current queen. A Kenyan-Canadian film student (and fan of princes and princesses) interning on the production has a rude awakening after reading the “Kenyan episode.” She not only decides to confront the writer, she also commits to writing her own version of the events of that memorable trip to Kenya.

Characters:

1952:

Mercy: Black female, 40s – 50s. Runs a small restaurant in Nyeri, Kenya.

Tia: Black female, 21. Mercy’s daughter.

Talbot: White male, 40 plus. An envoy to Princess Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: White female, 25. Heiress to the throne (also plays Ashley, an actor, in 2015).

Montague: Black male, late 20s to early/mid-30s. A driver and assistant to Talbot.

2015:

Robin: White female, 30s. Production manager in London.

Tia: Black female, 20. A Canadian film student in London.

Maurice: White male, 40 plus. An English screenwriter.

Patricia: Black female, 40s. A casting director.

Steve: Black male, 20s – 30s. An English actor.

Plus recorded voices of BBC news readers, narrators and characters in a romantic comedy.

First Produced:

Western Canada Theatre, Kamloops, BC, 2020

Resources:

Available through Scirocco Drama.

Serving Elizabeth can be accessed at the Canadian Play Outlet.

Notes:

This play is written to be double cast. There is a corresponding role for each of the five characters in 1952 and 2015. In the second act, there is a meta moment when the actors playing Tia and Steve change into the characters of Faith and Montague respectively. This can be ignored if there are individual actors cast for each part.

The episode of the TV series The Crown referenced in the synopsis is season 1, episode 2: “Hyde Park Corner.”