June 26, 2009

God Save The Queen

Well, I guess in this case, which one?

Mary Stuart which I saw last Saturday with Tom and Lani is a play by Freidrich Schiller which centers on the prisoned life of Mary Queen of Scots. Cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, she was imprissoned due to murder of her husband but the real reason was because she was a threat to Elizabeth's crown. The play explores how Mary pleas with her cousin Elizabeth for reprieve while her cousin the Queen is in turmoil because of the political and religious pressure on her to eliminate Mary. It has intrigue and betrayal perfect combination for a play.

Janet McTeer who plays Mary earned a Tony nomination for her work. Her Mary is strong, fiesty yet vulnerable and elegant. She is matched onstage by Harriet Walter who plays Elizabeth I (also nominated for a Tony). Her Elizabeth is regal and smart but it was really great to see a more exposed side of Elizabeth that I don't think I've seen in portrayals from films.

There's this powerful scene where the two queens meet. Mary enjoys the small freedom she gets by going outside into the castle yard and lets herself soak in the rain. Mind you it's ACTUAL rain on stage! And not just drops but a downpour. In contrast, Elizabeth enters fully protected from the rain with umbrellas and coats. It's a great showdown of these two strong women. One, stripped of her nobility, asking to be freed while the other with all the control and power. And yet the one who "wins" the scene is Mary with Elizabeth visibly shaken. It's a great great scene.

I also particularly enjoyed the choice of having the men in court wear modern Men's suits while the women were in period costumes. It gives a feeling of the constraint these two women feel by being surrounded by men trying to pressure them.

The play in on a limited run so make sure to catch it while it's here.

Check out the stagedoor photo and the playbill:

Harriet Walter - I found it really interesting that she asked us how we heard of the play


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