In 1778 when timid little Fanny Burney is discovered to be the author of the wickedly satirical novel that is sweeping through London (a precursor to Jane Austen’s), she becomes a darling of the sparkling intelligentsia of Enlightenment London, numbering Dr Johnson among her admirers. But her second novel is scarcely in the bookshops when Fanny receives an offer from the court of George 111 to become Second Keeper of the Robes, an offer she dare not refuse. Thus Fanny sacrifices family and friends to become a servant in the stultifying court. Mortified that she must respond to the summons of a bell, terrified by the court’s stifling etiquette, forced to spend what little free time she has with the bullying First Keeper of the Robes, Fanny is finally rescued by her friends.
While Sovereign taps in to the enduring appeal of plays about royal families, it differs from most by taking the point of view of a servant. Set against a backdrop of the American colonies having recently fought for their freedom and the French citizens currently seeking theirs, Sovereign is a reminder of the ease with which we too can sacrifice freedoms which have been fiercely fought for over the centuries. Fanny’s journey is struggle with obedience and liberty.
Through a teasing confrontation with truth and reality Sovereign plays with notions of identity. One actor plays Dr Johnson and the King simultaneously, for example, and the public face of the Queen is a dressmaker’s dummy, but these possibilities are intended as springboards for the imagination of the production’s creative team. And when the eighteenth century characters engage with the audience of the twenty-first, Sovereign is pointing to the resonance of eighteenth century concerns with our own.

  • historical comedy-drama
  • 90
  • 4 total
  • 2 female identifying, 2 male identifying
  • 16 to 18, 18+
  • adult, young adult
  • Australian Script Centre


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