A trilogy in one play, Victoria is set in 1936, 1976 and 1996, and tells the story of three generations of rich and poor in the Scottish Highlands. Grasping the huge theme of the spilt in the country’s culture between puritan repression and libertarian openness, it revolves around three different Victorias, all played by Neve McIntosh.
In 1936, the story begins with deference and revolution. Victoria is a servant who emigrates when she’s made pregnant by Oscar, a feckless student. For motives of his own, he joins his communist friend Euan to fight the fascists in Spain. But, before they go, they settle scores with David, owner of the Red House and a cranky admirer of Adolf Hitler.
By 1976, the whole landscape has changed. Enter Vicky, an American geologist looking for oil. She marries Oscar’s son, while Oscar leads a council bid to buy the Red House and turn it into a school. Meanwhile, its owner, a dippy-hippy aristo, gets into Indian mysticism.
In 1996, the hunt for oil has been taken over by the quarrying of rock and Victoria is the spoilt daughter of Vicky, who now lives at the Red House. Hippy counterculture has been replaced by environmental protest, and big business learns to cover exploitation with public relations. Victoria discovers Oscar’s past and tries to find her own identity
The sheer scale of this piece never ceases to amaze me. Why and how I wrote it will, I suspect remain a mystery. I seem to remember that, on receiving a commission from the RSC I felt that the response ought to be either a monologue or an epic and I opted for an epic. I intended it to be three full length plays but the RSC wasn’t keen to commit to such Lepagian tendencies at the time so I squashed it into three acts of one long play. I suspect it suffers from this squashing a little even now. I harbour dreams of seeing it expanded, allowed to breathe and performed over three nights.
Victoria was also the first time I explored the possibilities of the same actor playing different characters and thereby creating a ‘ghost’ narrative under the real narrative. A story of bodies moving together or apart through time.
Premier Place and Date: The Pit, The Barbican London, 2000
Director and Producing Company: Ian Brown, The Royal Shakespeare Company
Publication Details: Methuen
Translation Details: None
Foreign Performances: None
Awards, Prizes: None
Characters: The play has a cast of 32 characters but requires a minimum of 15 actors.