Mary Stuart, New Diorama, London
Monday 23 January 2012
Faction Theatre Company won this year's Peter Brook/Equity Ensemble Award, a gong founded by the visionary Blanche Marvin, in recognition of the fact that ensembles -- the best training ground these post-rep days perhaps for young actors -- would benefit generally from having their profiles raised.
Faction are very worthy winners. They kicked off their
three-play season at the New Diorama with a sizzlingy fresh Twelfth Night. The same actors and the same director
--- Mark Leipacher -- now bring to bear a similar talent for
creating a mood of astringent immediacy on to Schiller's great 1800
tragedy, Mary Stuart. I have seen the piece twice
before -- once in Michael Grandage's superlative production, with
Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter, which found acclaim on Broadway as
well as on its West End transfer. But Faction's thrilling,
rough theatre-ish version made me feel that I had never seen the
Schiller, for my money, has the most acute understanding of power-politics after Shakespeare. This interpretation -- using a translation by the director and Daniel Millar that intelligently flirts with near-anachronism in its bringing of the play into alignment with our terror-ridden times -- goes straight to the nub, or rather to the nubs. of the matter. The play features a prisoner, the title character, Mary Stuart who is here portrayed with a fierce spiritual intensity by Derval Mellett who boasts a wonderful mane of strawberry blond curls. But it's an increasingly moot point whether her cousin and jailer, Elizabeth I is, in fact, the more fundamentally imprisoned of the two. Mary is beset by double-crossing followers plotting for her freedom. But Elizabeth (angst-ridden and Sloaney in Kate Sawyer's fine portrayal) is marooned within the aching isolation of monarchy and within an intrigue-ridden court where it would be insane to risk trust let alone love.
Instead of taking the usual two-divas tack with this excellent play, Faction make it a true ensemble piece that convinces you that the events here are breaking news, as in the superbly imaginative use of projections that have the whiff of a Newsnight background-feature. The men wear modern coats on the shoulder bridging the gap between moderna and neo-Jacobean. The blocking has a daring violence. Light spills from open door suggesting byzantine corridors of power and corruption just out of reach, In a brilliant touch, Mary ascends an aluminium ladder scaffold and remains at the top, making Elizabeth's guilt desolation thereafter all the more palpable. Go.
New Diorama Theatre - Faction Theatre Company - Mary Stuart
Tue 4th - Sat 22nd September 2012 at 7.30pm. Saturday matinees at 3pm
Ticket prices: £15.50 & £12.50 concessions
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 Fight Club 2: Chuck Palahniuk sequel is a 'meta-fictional comment on the cultural response to the original'
- 3 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Fight Club 2: Chuck Palahniuk sequel is a 'meta-fictional comment on the cultural response to the original'
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?
Star Wars 7: Plot details 'leak', with sequel's opening sequence and premise revealed
Original Rick Astley 'rickrolling' video removed from YouTube
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains