The Eleventh Trip of Lilibet W.

Whisky & Wood- Level 1/60 Cambridge Terrace, Te Aro, Wellington

28/02/2024 - 01/03/2024

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Writer- James Ladanyi
Director- James Ladanyi

Continuum Theatre Co.

364 days after her death, Queen Elizabeth II walks into a quiet, second-hand Wellington bookshop.
Incognito, in a city she hasn’t seen for twenty years, Elizabeth is confronted with life, literature, and the difficult realities of her legacy. A play about sovereignty, manaakitanga, and the tales we tell ourselves.

Venue: Whisky & Wood
February 28th – March 2nd
Ticket Price: $18 Adult / General, $12 Concession, $14.50 Fringe Addict

Lilibet: Aimée Sullivan
The Keeper: Tara Canton

Theatre ,

70 Minutes (including 10 minute interval)

Ladanyl has researched meticulously, written brilliantly and chosen his cast superbly

Review by Margaret Austin 29th Feb 2024

What happens when you team writer/director James Ladanyl with actors Tara Canton and Aimee Sullivan? You get The Eleventh Trip of Lilibet W:  an extraordinarily impressive theatre piece that is – above all – relevant. Relevant to our times, our psyches and our consciences.

At Whisky & Wood, we find ourselves on two sides of a performance space decorated with piles of books, some dangling from the ceiling. At one end is a large desk and this is to play a prominent part in what follows. Enter Tara Canton, keeper of this second-hand emporium. It’s her desk and she seems quietly in charge as she listens to that oldie and goody: ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

Then enter a nicely dressed lady, her conservative appearance completed by that mark of all ladies – a handbag. Her polite “Hello” is responded to with a ”Hiya”. And the scene is set for an exchange between two opposites: an exchange about matters concerning Queen and Commonwealth (nee Empire) – as we have all guessed the identity of our chance visitor. She picks up a hefty volume: it’s Robert Hardman’s biography, A Queen of our Times, and remarks with interest on the pet name of Lilibet.  

“I’m not sure where I am,” she remarks presently. Given that this action is taking place 364 days after her death, perhaps the comment is not surprising. In another book she randomly selects, “mana” and “manaaki” feature, and the discussion veers towards the place and importance of language, and its effects and consequences. “But the royal family loves mana,” evokes a more pointed observation from our hitherto politely curious custodian. We’d be in for more of that if it wasn’t for a cleverly placed intermission as madam would like tea please.

The second half finds our pair more clearly juxtaposed – Queen is now at the shop desk, exploring its literary contents, and Custodian is at the other end of her domain. And now comes the discovery of the speech Her Majesty gave in 1954 during a royal tour of New Zealand – a speech that opened Parliament, “an historic privilege” of her father. (I was in the grounds that day, my father having driven the family Citroen all the way from Palmerston North for the occasion.)

“We hope you will hold fast to your language and your culture,” says the Queen, quoting herself, and we are forced to examine such a statement. Is what has occurred subsequently a failure of the monarchy?

And it is this plus other related matters illustrated by this play that make it such a groundbreaking one. Ladanyl has researched meticulously, written brilliantly and chosen his cast superbly. The concluding exchange between an increasingly assertive-second hand bookshop keeper and an ever courteous but increasingly uncertain member of the royal family is fascinating in its nature and a theatrical triumph.

A transfixed audience has witnessed something very special. God save The Eleventh Trip of Lilibet W.


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