Ugo Betti - The Queen and the Rebels
BBC Home Service: The Monday Play
Broadcast: Monday 22nd January 1962
Rebel forces who are trying to form a new Republic are searching for Queen Elisabetta, who is believed to have escaped the destruction of
her headquarters and to be attempting to flee the country, in disguise. Suspecting spies on board, a lorrie is stopped as it tries to pass
through a hillside village that the rebels control. The suspected passengers are forced into a large hall in the main public building to be
There are two women in the party of travellers, a peasant woman and a girl who is apparently a wealthy call-girl named Argia. The latter is
suspected of being the queen, but she herself treats the peasant woman as though she is the queen. Relying on the villagers' interpreter,
Raim, who knew her before the war, to establish her identity, Ariga has the ground pulled out from under her when he refuses to do so for
fear of the authorities (who might then decide he is an accomplice). At first, Ariga wanted to turn the Queen in but after she tells Argia of the
ordeals she has endured, Argia takes pity on her and plans to help her to escape...
Translated in 1956 by Henry Reed and adapted for radio from Ugo Betti's 1949 play, "The Queen and The Rebels".
With Irene Worth [Argia], Leo McKern [Commissar Amos, the Rebel Chief], Hugh Burden [Raim, the Village Interpreter], Dorothy
Primrose [Queen Elisabetta], Huw Jones [General Biante], John Bryning [Maupa], Wilfred Babbage [The Engineer], Derek Birch [Orazio,
the Hall Porter], Donald McKillop [A Peasant / A Soldier], and Hilda Kriseman [A Peasant Woman].
Note: In 1955, Irene Worth joined the Midland Theatre Company in Coventry for Ugo Betti's "The Queen And The Rebels", which also
starred Leo McKern. The play made such an impression that it was transferred to London's Haymarket Theatre. These two stars reprised
their roles in this 1962 production.
Produced by R. D. Smith
Re-broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1992 on the centenary of Ugo Betti's birth
"The setting of the Queen and the Rebels was not unfamiliar in the ebb and flow of political events in the fifties. A group of travellers is being
checked at a frontier post in a hillside village. There is an air of nervousness and suspicion. It is made known that the Queen, who was
supposed to have been killed in the revolution, may be alive and trying to escape in disguise. Any woman is suspect. In this situation the
convictions and hesitations, virtues and vices, of the people caught up in one small episode take on a universal significance". (Radio Times)
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