Swive [Elizabeth]

Swive [Elizabeth]

Shakespeare's Globe · 06 DEC - 15 FEB

Sex as power in the reign of Elizabeth I.

Lyn Gardner avatar
5 December 2019  ·  Follow on Stagedoor
“It has been a great couple of years for writer Ella Hickson. She took apart the male power structures of theatre with The Writer at the Almeida and produced one of the most intriguing plays of the year so far in Anna. That piece used binaural sound delivered via headphones to create a place of secrets and lies, dissectings the life of a woman living in East Germany under the communist regime. Hickson worked with director Natalie Abrahami on Anna and they’re teaming up again for Swive, a show about power and sex set in the court of Elizabeth I. She was a mighty monarch but she was insecure about her looks as she aged.”


(archaic, transitive) To copulate with (a woman).
(archaic, transitive, dialectal ) To cut a crop in a sweeping or rambling manner, hence to reap; cut for harvest.

Elizabeth was a political mastermind and monarchic force who reigned supreme for 45 years, and yet she still felt that her power ultimately resided in her beauty.

Swive, a new play by award-winning writer Ella Hickson (The Writer, Almeida; ANNA, National Theatre) and directed by Natalie Abrahami (ANNA, National Theatre; Machinal, Almeida), interrogates the power of aesthetics in gaining and maintaining control in a patriarchy.

The power of kings is never predicated on their appearance. In Swive, Hickson shines candlelight on the savage pressure that women are under to sell themselves on their least interesting quality. If beauty is the key to survival, how do you hold on to what time will take away?

Critic reviews

Clever, funny and indignant

The Independent

Ella Hickson’s latest is a murderously intense drama about Elizabeth I’s ascent

Time Out

Blazing truths about how Elizabeth I's legacy was defined on different terms

Evening Standard

This sharp and witty new play is the boost women desperately need, and is guaranteed to stoke the fire that blazes within

Broadway World

Hickson’s play has real swagger

Lyn Gardner for Stagedoor

Ella Hickson's potent study of women, power and patriarchy

The Stage

A not so modern queen fights for absolute power

The Guardian

Pacy, dagger-sharp rewriting of history

The Arts Desk

Abigail Cruttenden’s commanding performance as the elder Elizabeth plays perfectly against the calculated naivety of Nina Cassells’ Princess Elizabeth


A little firecracker of a play

Financial Times

Startling and authentic

The Observer

Natalie Abrahami’s production is taut and pacey


A tart and teasing play about Tudor power politics and the Queen’s determination to dodge becoming a wife

The Sunday Times

Date & time

Show ended
Fri 6 Dec - Sat 15 Feb, 2pm & 7.30pm


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