A Theatre Buff Reviews The Virgin Trial

Playwright Kate Hennig demonstrated her grip on an audience with The Last Wife at Stratford in 2015. This year, she’s doing it again with The Virgin Trial.

The Virgin Trial, Stratford Festival 2017

Brad Hodder as Thom and Bahia Watson as Bess. Photography by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The play covers the life of the young Princess Elizabeth (Bahia Watson) between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. It’s an unstable time for the throne.  Two brothers, Lord Somerset (Nigel Bennett) and the Lord High Admiral Thomas Seymour (Brad Hodder) are jockeying for position at the court of the young King Edward (heir to Henry VIII).  Thom has proposed to each of the Princesses (Mary and Elizabeth) and been refused by the court. He settles for Catherine Parr, the dowager queen and the last wife of Henry VIII, and by so doing he becomes Bes’ stepfather. It’s the combination of Thom’s illicit rallying of troops, sexualized tickling and teasing of Bes, and attempted break-in of the young King’s apartments that puts the future queen in peril. The pivotal question posed by the regency council (Yanna McIntosh) is whether the future queen knowingly conspired with Thomas Seymour to depose her step-brother, King Edward VI .

Could a teenage girl reasonably be implicated in treason? This one could be. She’s smart. She’s strategic. And when she realizes the significance of the charges that have not yet been made against her, she makes every effort to protect her governess, Kat Ashley (Laura Condlin), and comptroller Thomas Parry (André Morin). When Ashley and Parry are sent to the Tower of London, Bes does what any motherless teenage girl would do: She seeks the counsel of her older sister, Princess Mary (Sara Farb). Interestingly, these latter exchanges offer the only break from the tension that reigns on the stage.

The dialogue in The Virgin Queen is taut. The acting is impeccable. The set is sparse. And the costumes are modern. If you plan to attend, be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat.

The Virgin Trial is playing at the Stratford Festival until September 30, 2017

Bonnie Lendrum is the author of Autumn’s Grace, the story of how one family manages the experience of palliative care with hope and humor despite sibling conflicts, generational pulls and career demands. Autumn’s Grace is a powerful commentary on the need for well-organized and well-funded palliative care in private homes and in residential hospices. It’s a gift to people who would like to be prepared as they help fulfill the final wishes of someone they love. 

Back At The Keyboard Post-Concussion


Two years, one month, and two weeks post-concussion, I am joyfully back to the keyboard. My characters have returned. They ‘peer over my shoulders’ and make observations that amuse, disturb, irritate, surprise and satisfy me. I had missed them and feared that their absence over the past two years was permanent.

When I resumed writing in October 2015, it was to assess whether I could still string words together. I could. With much effort. The posts I did were descriptions under the guise of theatre reviews. They were an intentional test of my ability to remember, assimilate and make sense of the productions I was seeing. Straight-forward productions were relatively easy to review; they took a few hours to write up. Others like If/Then were challenging. And some, like the the brilliant Broadway production of A Curious Incident of The Dog In The Nighttime, were impossible.

In the spring of 2016 I resumed work on my manuscript; I had last touched it in December 2014. To my great sadness, all I could do was edit… and edit… and edit some more. My characters had gone AWOL, and  I had no idea how to create bridging chapters from where I had left off  to the last chapter. I had written that chapter about two and a half years ago when I had determined that the manuscript was at the one-third point.

This past November, twenty-three months post-concussion, my characters, along with my memory, began to return. I’m more than relieved; I’m ecstatic. Over the next many months, creative rather than descriptive writing will be my focus . Please know, that the absence of new posts on this site will mean that I’m happily absorbed with, and distracted by, the process of story-making.  Signing off for now…

Bonnie Lendrum is the author of Autumn’s Grace, the story of how one family manages the experience of palliative care with hope and humor despite sibling conflicts, generational pulls and career demands.

Word On The Street – Sunday, September 25th – Toronto

There will be books, books and more books—a veritable cornucopia of books—at Toronto’s Word on the Street this coming Sunday, September 25th. Buy a book; give a book; read a book! And as you browse your way through the bountiful tables do drop by Inanna Publications – booth 328. I will be there from 12: 00 to 13:00 hours engaged in two of my favourite activities: buying and selling books!


 Bonnie Lendrum is the author of Autumn’s Grace, the story of how one family manages the experience of palliative care with hope and humor despite sibling conflicts, generational pulls and career demands.

Give It A Rest!

X-country skiing Eastern Townships

The winter months have traditionally been my time to write. I hunker down, throw on a cape, steep tea, and spend hours at my computer. The next day I re-write everything from the day before, and then begin anew. The process goes on for months and I love it. Inevitably, the first signs of spring provoke anxiety. Lengthening days mean the garden will soon be in bud, and the competition for writing time will begin. Weeds will sprout. I will fret. And then I will succumb. Weeding, seeding, tilling, dead-heading, and mowing will prevail through the summer months until October when I put the gardens to bed for another year.

This spring however is different. A concussion in early December de-railed any plans to complete my current manuscript. In fact, I have spent this winter not writing and not reading. The experience has been akin to a forced withdrawal which may explain why this spring, instead of  trepidation I’m sensing anticipation. The garden, I am thinking, will become an extension of my physio-occupational therapy…snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, walking, yoga, mending, and cooking. The time I spend getting my fingernails and knees dirty will be additional time for my brain to heal. At some point during my excavations I hope my characters will “join” me. In previous years they have been at the edge of my consciousness …always. Listening. Observing. Developing. However for the past few months they have been noticeably truant. I suspect their absence has been my brain’s way of saying “Give it a rest, why don’t ya?” And so I will continue to do just that, while I listen, observe, heal….and wait.