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In this daring and original play, Timothy Findley brings together two giants of history: William Shakespeare and the formidable Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I. In the small hours of the night before Ash Wednesday, 1601, William Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlains' Men receive an unexpected visitor to their humble lodgings. Unable to rest, the Queen herself has come to keep vigil on the eve of the execution of her former lover, the Earl of Essex. Her arrival provokes the rapier-sharp wit and keen insight of Ned Lowenscroft, the company's brilliant performer of women's roles, and sparks the imagination of the Bard of Avon. In the course of the long night and their often turbulent exchanges, the actor, the queen, and the playwright will confront the roles they have played and the lives they have lived, wrestling with questions of identity, sexuality, and love, and asking: what makes a man a man, and a woman a woman?