Kate Hennig's

The Virgin Trial

June 7th - September 23rd Studio Theatre Ticket Info
Generally Positive Reviews based on 6 Critics
6 Reviews

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Mike Fischer


“Tudor fans traveling to Stratford must see “The Virgin Trial,” but Hennig’s play also transcends its moment; her young Bess reminded me of the similarly aged Anne Frank, also caught in an unforgiving historical vortex (rising star Farb, so good this year as Juliet and also as future queen Mary in “The Virgin Trial,” played Anne at the Festival two years ago).”

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The National Post - Robert Cushman


“I can’t believe,” says a character in The Virgin Trial, “it took us this long to find tea – in England.” Others may find it easier to believe, since Kate Hennig’s play is set in 1549, a full century before anybody in England took to drinking tea and two centuries before everybody did. But then in this Tudor chronicle, people also express desires for Belgian chocolates and for inspecting one another’s bank statements.

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Broadway World - Lauren Gienow


Watson is fantastic as Bess.
She plays her with a youthful and genuine innocence in combination with the aforementioned cunning, and does so in a way that makes it clear that a person can possess both traits. The way she innocently admits to her older half-sister (who is in line to the thrown ahead of her) that she has every intention of being the Queen of England and doing what she needs to do to get there, is simultaneously impressive, hilarious, and disturbing.
Every scene that Bess and Mary (an excellent Sara Farb) have together in this play is fantastic.

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The Toronto Star - Karen Fricker


“Hennig explores, with a bold combination of historical research and creative moxie, the teenage years of Elizabeth I, with particular attention to the epithet so often associated with her, the Virgin Queen…

In this complex whodunit, the biggest mystery that Hennig explores is Bess herself, as played by Watson with an extraordinary combination of vulnerability and steel. Who can this young woman trust? Can we trust her?

As Bess matures before our eyes, the bond between her and Catholic, tightly strung Mary is tested. The scenes between Watson and Farb are the production’s strongest, full of ironic humour as well as a very moving current of compassion.”

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The Stratford Beacon Herald - Geoff Dale


“Each member of the strong cast of seven revels in their moments of scene-stealing. Yanna McIntosh’s mesmerizing Eleanor, Ted’s co-inquisitor, is an unnerving mix of authoritative and seemingly emotionless dedication to the task at hand.

Laura Condlin and Andre Morin shine as Bess’ governess and secretary Ashley and Perry, loyal to their royal mistress yet no less free from the horrific indignities of torture at the hands of both Ted and Eleanor.

Hodder vividly captures Thom’s personal torment, the consequence of his inability to choose rational thought over irrational behaviour. Sara Farb, as Bess’ Catholic sister Mary, cleverly demonstrates the perils one has to confront when caught in the middle of such nefarious behaviour.”

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The Globe and Mail - J. Kelly Nestruck


“Whereas The Last Wife suffered a little by having a protagonist who was too much of a revisionist-history heroine, The Virgin Trial has a great, complex central character in Bess – a real break-out role for the underrated and totally original actress Watson. She has a girlish voice, but brings tremendous nuance to it – and, like the inquisitors, you may find yourself wondering whether her Bess is innocent or just skilled at playing innocent. (Though Hennig’s play is, in a way, an interrogation of adjectives like “innocent” and “virginal,” which become loaded when applied to girls.)

In Dilworth’s production, the scenes snap from one to the other – and we get to watch Watson’s wily queen-to-be quickly shift tactics depending on who she has to perform her act for and wonder what’s really at her centre.”

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