Queen of the Mist
By Christine Davey
‘I did not say, like Dante, on entering the barrel, “Who enters here leaves all hope behind,” but as I faced the inevitable, life or a horrible death in 50 minutes, my courage rose – Annie Edson Taylor
Queen of the Mist is a hyperbolic theatrical re-imagining of the life of Annie Edson Taylor, the 63-year-old woman who became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive the experience. Taylor performed this feat for money and acclaim. She wished to avoid starvation and a life of penury. She was a liar, fraud and, according to those who knew her, an unlikable, middle-aged woman who courted fame and notoriety and did not let a fact get in the way of a good story. Annie Edson Taylor is not a household name. She has been sidelined to a section of history where ‘unacceptable’ women are permitted to reside. This is exactly the reason she now has a play in her honour. Because of her flaws she challenges the perception of traditional womanhood within theatrical storytelling. She is the hero of her own story, yet not heroic. She is funny, yet tragic. She is triumphant, yet a failure. Annie Edson Taylor marched to the beat of her own drum and marched triumphantly.