Victoria Hamilton talks Chekovian Brexit, Doctor Foster and playing the Queen Mum

PUBLISHED: 17:57 12 October 2017

Albion Rehearsals Victoria Hamilton

Albion Rehearsals Victoria Hamilton


Mike Bartlett’s marital break-up thriller Doctor Foster has had the nation gripped these past weeks. Actress Victoria Hamilton tells Bridget Galton that his latest work is a Chekhovian play probing British identity in the wake of the Brexit vote

“People keep asking ‘how’s that Brexit play going?’ says Victoria Hamilton.

“But what’s fascinating is we are making something much richer and funnier than that,”

Set – where else? - in an English country garden, Albion runs at Islington’s Almeida theatre and is penned by Mike Bartlett, one of Britain’s most in demand writers after hits such as Doctor Foster and monarchy drama Charles III.

He has now turned to a Brexit-influenced state-of-the-nation play which interrogates British identity and stars Hamilton whom Dr Foster fans will know as wine-slurping neighbour Anna, and fans of Netflix hit The Crown will recognise as the Queen mum.

While the background is the EU referendum, Hamilton says Bartlett is “far too clever” to signpost the politics.

“It won’t be what they expect. We honestly feel we are doing a Chekhov play with an incredibly rich canvas of characters, who come in and out of this garden and affect each other’s lives.”

Hamilton characterises Chekhovian drama as “seeing an array of characters interact with each other. Nothing happens, but everything happens, and then the world falls apart.”

She plays a successful London businesswoman who buys a big country pile after her soldier son dies.

Issues around monarchy, a sentimental nostalgia for the land, and a certain kind of English identity play out in a derelict garden that she is bringing back to its former glory.

“It’s a big country house which she remembers visiting as a child,” says Hamilton. “It has a famous garden that was the model for all English gardens and has been left to rack and ruin. She’s obsessed with bringing it back.”

Through the characters who come and go, Bartlett explores what it is to be British today.

“We are making an incredibly personalised family drama with real emotional bite. There are obviously politics running through it, but you won’t feel you are watching a political play. It’s about how we feel about our identity in the political climate, the surprising effect that has had on some people. That sense that something about being British is changing, of sand shifting beneath us, runs through the play. Mike captures a moment,he asks questions, reflects broader themes and the clash of two worlds in a way that touches on pretty much every reason for leaving or for staying. But he doesn’t comes down on one side or another.”

Hamilton who says all her best parts have come from theatre, is enjoying playing a role that’s never been done before.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” says the actress who previously appeared in Bartlett’s Love Love Love at The Royal Court “He writes the most phenomenal characters for women. Like Doctor Foster, she was like Medea! After the first series we thought how do you top that? But he did it. He’s brilliant at writing those imploding worlds and deeply complicated relationships that are toxic but people can’t escape from. Many people relate to being betrayed - even if you haven’t taken it to that degree - but the characters are so true and clear you believe them.”

Having played both Queen Victoria and the Queen Mum she jokes that she’s “completely cornered the market in playing women 20 years older than me. By the time I get to 60 I’ll have missed out on 20 years of my career”.

But the Wimbledon-born actress adds that she feels fortunate to reach her mid-40s “just at a time when it’s fashionable to put middle-aged women in strong roles.”

“People are recognising that there is power and depth to be found in these performances and they are writing stronger parts for women of a certain age. There’s a zeitgeist. TV is having a golden age and parts for women are suddenly exploding, I feel very lucky.”

Albion is at The Almeida until November 24.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hackney Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hackney Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hackney Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hackney Stories

Yesterday, 21:45

A murder investigation has been launched after a 42-year-old man was found with multiple stab injuries in Homerton this morning.

Yesterday, 17:57

It has been confirmed an Arsenal legends team have been invited to take part in a prestigious charity match against Real Madrid this summer.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

National League: Eastleigh 0 Leyton Orient 0

Saturday, March 17, 2018

FA Cup quarter-finals: Swansea City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 3

Saturday, March 17, 2018

I have written today to the chief executives of the Environment Agency and the Canal and River Trust having seen little in the way of effective action from either of these agencies to tackle the oil spill on the River Lea, writes Cllr Ian Rathbone, Lea Bridge ward.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The 46-year-old elaborated on his thoughts that it takes a long-term process to breed a winning mentality rather than one successful domestic cup run

Friday, March 16, 2018

Arsenal have encouraged supporters to follow advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after they were drawn to play CSKA Moscow in the Europa League.


To celebrate LGBT history month, Hackney resident Amanda talks about her journey to becoming a foster carer, with the council’s support and training.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists