MARY STUART (play)
Ends 31st March
Audio Described performance: 28th March 2018 at 2.15pm (Touch Tour 6pm)
Captioned performance: 21st March 2018 at 2pm
This version of the Friedrich Schiller play is by Peter Oswald. It
explores the complex relationship between English Elizabeth I and Mary,
Queen of Scots whom she has placed under house arrest for the past 18
years. The year is now 1587, Mary has just three days to live and this
play charts the events of those hours.
This production was first seen at the Almeida Theatre in Winter 2016. It
now moves to a larger venue.
The decision as to who plays which queen is decided by a coin-toss
before each performance. On days with both a matinee and evening show, a
coin will be tossed before the matinee. The roles will be cast, and the
actors will automatically switch role for the evening performance. This
means that on days with both matinee and evening performances, it is
possible to see both actors play the role.
(seen at the afternoon performance on 27th January 2018).
The monkey had waited over a year to see this - longer than "Hamilton" in fact.
It was unlucky enough to have a ticket for a cancelled Almeida performance last
year, and was thus delighted at the transfer announcement. Worth the wait? Yes.
Juliet Stevenson won the toss, handing Lia Williams the role of Mary Stuart.
Naturally the entire audience then wished to see it the other way around, as
both actors proceeded to give a master-class in characterisation. Director
Robert Icke manages to keep them both within the realm of reality, even as the
story takes the most unlikely turns. Adding the depth of emotion each woman
brings - triumph or defiance, and the true pillars of the show stand proud
Despite Robert Ike's claim to have revised Schiller's rather longwinded text,
the monkey found the first 20 minutes of scene-setting a trifle dull. Perhaps
the thrill of the coin-toss (on TV screens to prove there is no fakery - though
a weighted coin could have been used) and rush to ennoble one and reduce the
other to prisoner takes a while to work through. Once past that, however, it's a
thrilling Royal court drama, with nobody as they seem.
Remarkable John Light gives us a double-crossing Leicester, nadir of convincing
Rudi Dharmalingam (Mortimer). Michael Byrne (Talbot) brings gravity to
proceedings, but should perhaps refrain from delivering remarks made in the
auditorium straight down the ear of the person in B12 (guess where the monkey
was seated) - for that, the monkey was rather hoping for an execution order that
didn't happen, fine actor or not.
Back in sympathies and David Jonsson Fray (Davison) is a youngster to watch,
with good diction and presence. Carmen Munroe (Kennedy) has a beautiful scene
and makes a strong impact, as does Eileen Nicholas (Melvil). The other assorted
nobles and commoners orbit their Queen with wary respect, building a charged
atmosphere that seldom fails, particularly as intrigue grows after the interval.
Another triumphant transfer for the Almeida, is the monkey verdict.