The Anastasia File at the Theatre Royal Windsor
Since the massacre of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918, mystery has surrounded his daughter, the Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Did she die or did she survive? And, if she survived, what happened to her?

By the buzz amongst the audiences at the Theatre Royal Windsor this week, it is something that still fascinates many people.The latest production to come out of the Bill Kenwright stable, Royce Ryton’s story of one, of many, women who claimed to have been Anastasia, certainly got them talking.

The Anastasia File is, for the moment, exclusive to Windsor audiences. It is clearly a work in progress. The scenery is almost non-existent and what there is of it looks makeshift. And the minor characters, of which there are many, need fleshing out by more than just two actors, one of whom looks too young for many of the roles he is playing.

But, having said that, theatregoers are not being short-changed. Under the sensitive direction of Roy Marsden, Jenny Seagrove’s performance as ‘Anastasia’ needs no embellishments.The play opens with her as a convincing old lady, being interviewed by a policeman who is trying to put to rest the mystery which his father, a police inspector, worked on when ‘Anastasia’ was pulled out of a canal after a suicide attempt, and placed into an asylum for three years.

Cue that time, and Seagrove transforms into a deeply troubled, frightened young woman who is almost comatose with fear. What follows is a heartbreaking story as the authorities try to discover her identity, an identity she wants to keep secret. But when she can no longer stand so much questioning she blurts out who she is and, slowly and painfully, she tries to convince people that she really is Anastasia - a process which Seagrove must find exhausting as her character swings from emotional outbursts to almost childlike happiness. 
My only criticism is that, throughout the years covered in the story, she wears her original nightgown and goes about barefoot. I can only think that this is to emphasise that, until she can prove she is Anastasia, she is rootless and homeless, with no real identity.

Andrew Lancel won a Villain of the Year British Soap Award for his part in Coronation Street as Frank Foster, but as the Inspector he is certainly not typecast, but authoritative and kindly as his character befriends Anastasia and fights her case.

The only remaining cast members are Richard Winsor and Rosie Thomson who are to be applauded for playing so many different roles, even if they mainly look all the same!

The Anastasia File is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until July 13.
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