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.”
“Ella Hickson is a playwright who has become something of a cult figure in British theatre. Her 2018 play at the Almeida (The Writer) was a controversial hit, splitting critics down the middle. She followed it up recently with an excellent Cold War thriller at the National (Anna) and now she’s turning her hand to feminist history at the Globe. That theatre had a big success recently with another piece of new writing – Emilia – which went on to the West End. That was a raucous middle finger to the patriarchy. We suspect Swive might be more serious in tone but we're no less excited to see it.”


(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?

Date & time

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


Shakespeare's Globe
21 New Globe Walk, Bankside SE1 9DT London, UK · Get Directions
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