Sam & I - A solo play about Elizabeth, the wife of Samuel Pepys
Written and performed by Siobhán Nicholas;
Directed by Chris Barnes
Designed by Lizzie Wyllie and Gus Munro
Dr Richard Luckett, the Pepys Librarian at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge and the Reverend John Cowling, past rector of St Olave’s Church in the City Of London.
An Arts Council England GFTA award enabled us to develop the production for national touring.
Background to the play
Sam & I was our flagship production in 2005. Originally commissioned for The City Of London's Tercentenary Pepys Festival in 2003.
Elizabeth de St Michel arrives in 1650’s London, a beautiful, intelligent, educated but penniless immigrant, fresh from a convent in Paris.
Soon she meets the most promising and gifted young buck on the London scene, Samuel Pepys. They marry. It is a love match. She has no dowry to offer and he asks for none – a scandal at that time. Samuel’s rise through the social ranks of the C17th was meteoric. Elizabeth saw him become Clerk of the Acts for the Naval Board, a Justice of the Peace and Fellow of the Royal Society. In later years, he was appointed Secretary to the Admiralty, a Member of Parliament and President of the Royal Society but posterity remembers him for the “diary” which he abruptly finished after Elizabeth’s death.
This hour long solo play explores the raw material of the fiery relationship between Elizabeth and Samuel Pepys.
Samuel Pepys? …His Diary! … His World!! …His Women!!!
How do you think his wife felt?
Elizabeth shares with us her love, commitment, excitement – the joys and trials of her household, the gossip of the Court, the horrors of the Plague, the flames of the Great Fire of London
And finally her raging trauma when, in her own house,
She witnesses her husband’s infidelity.
Fifteen figures of the Pepys circle from the highest in the land to the most menial of servants are brought to life as Elizabeth wrestles with the reality of her marriage.
What people have said about Sam & I
Chichester Observer - Arundel Festival Fringe 2005
Reviewer: Sian Webber
In the last moments of Take the Space’s enchanting Sam and I, our narrator Elizabeth touchingly describes the comfort of being reflected in a loved one’s eyes – the eyes being those of her husband Samuel Pepys, the great diarist.
As well as being a wonderful evocation of the events of the time – both domestic and social, the play is a celebration of their marriage, which although tinged with the darker strain of his infidelity, emerges (through Siobhan Nicholas’ beautiful and sensitive portrayal of Elizabeth) as a profoundly affectionate and passionate one. With just one bag of minimal props and her skill for transformation, the characters, which people Elizabeth’s world, are brought vividly and often amusingly to life in Chris Barnes’ excellent production.
East Kent Mercury -November 2005
Reviewer: Liz Turner of Theatre Nomad
Take the Space’s production of Sam & I at the Astor Theatre Arts Centre was a delicately crafted piece based on the diaries of Samuel Pepys and told from the point of view of his wife and servants. It was a story full of tenderness, pathos, humour and irony cleverly framed by opening with a contemporary character who illustrated some parallels between seventeenth and twenty first century life.
Arts Page: June 26- July 2 Best Performance
The Ustinov Studio - Theatre Royal, Bath
Reviewer: Sarah Jane Downing
What do you do when your husband cheats on you? Leave him? Sleep with his best friend? Grind chillies into his underwear? Any or all of these, or even try to talk it out with him, but whatever we do, we take the power to try to sort it out.
Revd John Cowling, St Olave's, Hart St, City Of London's Samuel Pepys Tercentenary Festival 2003
This is a play that can travel. It is for Siobhán Nicholas a triumph and a tour de force, in the course of which she presents at least seventeen different characters, whilst keeping our attention movingly focused on the central person. It helps to explain why Sam was entranced as well as exasperated by her and left the beautiful and elegantly worded memorial to her in the church...
Frazer Swift, Deputy Head of Learning, Museum Of London 2003
Siobhán Nicholas gave a powerful and moving performance in Sam and I. Her ability to single-handedly captivate the audience was remarkable. The performance was very well received by our knowledgeable audience and was one of the highlights of our programme of events marking the 300th anniversary of Pepys' death and supporting our Pepys' London exhibition.
Sam & I has played at
One Culture Festival of Literature and the Arts,
(The Royal Society, Carlton Terrace, London)
The Mill Studio
(Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre)
Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne
Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath
Burton Taylor Studio
Sir Humphrey Cripps Auditorium, Magdalene College
(University of Cambridge)
The Everyman Studio Theatre (Cheltenham)
Ondaatje Wing Theatre, National Portrait Gallery
(St Martin's Place, London)
Museum Of London
(London Wall, London)
St Olave’s Church
(Hart St, City of London)
Ellen Terry’s Barn Theatre
(Smallhythe Place, Tenterden, Kent)
Old Royal Naval College
St Mary's House
(Bramber, West Sussex)
Cheshire's Rural Arts Network
Lewes Live Literary Festival
Arundel Fringe Festival
The Hat Factory
The Space An Táin at the Town Hall
(Dundalk, Co Louth, Ireland)
(Derry, Northern Ireland)
Quay Arts Newport
(Isle of Wight)
The Maltings Arts Theatre
Ashcroft Arts Centre Fareham
(South Hill Park Bracknell)
Havant Arts Centre
St John's Chapel
Forest Arts Centre Hampshire
The Myers Studio Epsom Playhouse
Astor Community Arts Centre
Sam & I
This production has been devised to accommodate any stage or space from tiny studio or church hall to the mid scale and classic proscenium arch
Marketing Support: A6 or A5 fliers, A3 Posters.
Totally Flexible Staging: quick get in with small set/no flats
Tech Requirements: High production values but minimal lighting is possible. Sound on cd or mini disc
Fee: £700.00 which is negotiable and would need to reflect distance travelled etc.
Outreach Work Available: Workshops and Post Show Discussions. Please see resources page.
Cancellation fee will be requested only after dates and fees have been confirmed and when the company deems that valuable time has already been invested in the set up.