Serving Elizabeth

By Marcia Johnson

Serving Elizabeth
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Serving Elizabeth begins in Kenya in 1952, during the fateful royal visit of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Mercy, a restaurant owner, is approached to cook for the royal couple. Though she could use the money, she is a staunch anti-monarchist. She vows to stick ... Read more


Overview

Serving Elizabeth begins in Kenya in 1952, during the fateful royal visit of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Mercy, a restaurant owner, is approached to cook for the royal couple. Though she could use the money, she is a staunch anti-monarchist. She vows to stick to her principles, but her daughter, Faith, keeps trying to convince her to take the job. In London in 2015, in the production offices of a series about Queen Elizabeth, a Kenyan-Canadian film student, Tia, serves as an intern on the project. It's a perfect fit for her as she has been a fan of princesses her whole life. But when she reads the Kenya episode, she starts to understand that fairy tales and real life are very different things. Serving Elizabeth is a funny, fresh, and topical play about colonialism, monarchy, and who is serving whom -- or what.

Marcia Johnson

Marcia Johnson is a playwright and actor based in Toronto. Her plays include Binti's Journey, an adaptation of The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis; Courting Johanna (Scirocco Drama, 2009) based on Alice Munro's Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, and Late. Her plays have been performed by the Blyth Festival, Obsidian Theatre Company, Theatre Direct Canada, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Black Theatre Workshop, Western Canadian Theatre Company, and more. My Mother's Ring, a short opera for which she wrote the libretto with composer Stephen A. Taylor, was nominated for a 2009 Dora Mavor Moore Award. Their second collaboration, Paradises Lost, based on the Ursula K. Le Guin novella, had excerpted concert performances by Third Angle Ensemble in Portland, Oregon and at The Gershwin Hotel in New York. Marcia Johnson is a core member of Got Your Back Canada and is a juror/dramaturg for Ergo Pink Fest, supporting, developing and showcasing the works of women and playwrights of marginalized genders.

Excerpt

Act I, Scene 1: An Opportunity

January 1952. A small restaurant in Nyeri, Kenya. Mercy sits at a table packing away Christmas ornaments. Faith is on a ladder, half-heartedly taking down garlands.

FAITH: I do not want to stay at home all day looking after Papa!

MERCY: It will not be all day. Mrs. Kamau has agreed to sit with him in the afternoons.

FAITH: Why not the whole day? Papa likes her.

MERCY: We cannot ask that of a neighbour. Especially at her age.

FAITH: Oh it is so disgusting.

MERCY: You think there were diamonds in your nappies?

FAITH: I was a baby!

MERCY: Your father did not want to have a stroke, Faith.

FAITH: I know that.

MERCY: You can think of it as practice for when you have babies of your own.

FAITH: That is not funny.

MERCY: It is just until classes start.

FAITH: Eight whole months?!

MERCY: Eight months without a nurse will help to pay for school.

Get down. I will finish.

Faith gets down from the ladder and sulks. Mercy makes quick work of removing the rest of the garlands and putting them away.

FAITH: Every year, you come up with an excuse for me to defer.

MERCY: Not this year, Faith.

FAITH: That is what you said last year.

MERCY I want you to get out of here and put that brain of yours to good use just as much as you do.

Faith continues to sulk.

MERCY: Finish tidying up.

FAITH: The place is spotless.

MERCY: Did you check the lavatory?

FAITH: Why is it always shit with you?

MERCY: Faith!

FAITH: Yes, I checked the lavatory.

A kettle whistles.

MERCY: Good. Put everything away.

FAITH: All right.

Mercy goes to the kitchen. The kettle stops whistling. Faith takes the Christmas ornaments to a back room. After a moment, Talbot enters. He carries a briefcase. He studies the place with great curiosity.

Reviews

Brings new twists to storytelling about the royal family. (The Omega)

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