Review: Royal Friends at DivaFest 

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Rita Kohn's half-hour play Royal Friends — first presented as a staged reading in 1984 and given a fuller staging at DivaFest — takes place in 1886 in Queen Victoria’s Garden. Her Royal Highness is making a bouquet when her beloved friend, Benjamin Disraeli, aka Lord Beaconsfield, reappears to reminisce, either in her imagination or as a ghost. He's been dead for five years.

The two friends refer to things they wrote in letters to each other when both were alive, and to other people and events that were important to them. Her majesty praises Lord Beaconsfield for caring about “the common people.” He refers to the laws he brought about as his “children.” I confess that a lot of the historical detail went over my head. But I loved the feeling of getting to know two famous historical figures as human beings and experiencing a bit of their flirtatious yet deep friendship.

Under the playwright's direction, Jolene Mentink Moffatt portrayed Queen Victoria as a juicy woman still in love with her dead husband, Albert, but also in love with life. Adam O. Crowe portrayed Lord Beaconsfield as an equally vibrant and conscientious man who was delighted to have found favor with his monarch and sincerely enjoyed her company. Royal Friends made me want to learn more about these two people and the time they lived in.

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