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Mary Stuart in 250 words

By Harriet Wilson
Wednesday 14 February 2018

Take the story of Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. Make it relevant to a 21st Century audience. Flip a coin every night to decide who plays who. Currently at the Duke of York's theatre, Robert Icke's adaptation of Mary Stuart is fascinating, gripping, and perfectly executed by a flawless cast.

Mary Stuart artfully shows Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart as two sides of the same coin; in fact, a coin toss at the beginning of each performance decides who will play each of the two roles. The gesture is more than a novelty and sets the tone for a play in which these principal characters continuously overlap.

When I saw Mary Stuart, Juliet Stevenson played the role of Elizabeth, with Lia Williams in the title role. Both were stunning, and I really felt that I could get inside their characters' minds. This play may be set in a historical context, but its characters are vivid and relevant.

Part of this must also be credited to the way in which modern issues like gender are at the forefront of the play; it's impossible to detach.

Mary Stuart is rich in complexity, but it isn't bogged down, and the pace is good. Even so, this is a fundamentally tense and intense play, and I can understand why some may prefer a more upbeat production.

If you're looking for a play to sink your teeth into, you can catch Mary Stuart at London's Duke of York's Theatre until the end of March, or on tour in April.

Tags:

ClassicsHistoryDramaContemporaryBest Of BritishLimited Run
Harriet Wilson

Please note: Opinions expressed on the londontheatredirect.com blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.

More Mary Stuart blog posts

Mary Stuart Friday 26 January 2018
Sharing Roles Friday 02 February 2018
Mary Stuart "like a contemporary political psychological thriller" Wednesday 07 February 2018
What's closing in London Theatre this month? March 2018 Thursday 01 March 2018