There is a line in direction of the tip of Rona Munro’s play, Mary, that adjustments your perspective of the central character, Lord Melville, performed by Douglas Henshall.
Douglas Henshall (James Melville) and Brian Vernel (Thompson) in Mary at Hampstead Theatre. Photograph: Manuel Harlan
Set through the turbulent reign of Mary Queen of Scotts, Melville is her most loyal advisor. However, with a string of scandals and seemingly dangerous decisions threatening her place, Melville is below rising stress to show his again on the Queen.
The play is a sequence of more and more tense conversations between Melville, Thompson (Brian Vernel), who has risen quickly up the ranks at courtroom and Agnes (Rona Morison), a maid and vocal Protestant.
Thomspon and Agnes have little sympathy for the Queen and consider Scotland can be finest served if she abdicated.
Can Melville win them round to his mind-set and onto the facet of the Queen, or will they persuade him that placing the toddler prince James on the thrown with a regent is the higher path?
Queen Mary (Meg Watson) makes solely two transient appearances and says little or no, however her presence is a continuing all through as each determination, each look and smile is analysed and interpreted.
Merely staged with a wood-panelled backdrop, two chairs and later a desk, the main target is firmly on a debate concerning the Queen’s suitability to rule.
The bodily absence of Mary felt barely odd at first however serves to stress her lack of company and her vulnerability as a girl in a person’s world. As completely different interpretations of her motion or inaction are introduced, it emphasises the double requirements.
Within the play, individuals gossip and protest, even shouting insults on the Queen as she rides via the town, the sixteenth Century equal of placing your opinion in a Tweet.
The drama and rigidity construct, resulting in a heated trade of opinions a few pivotal occasion. It includes former favorite and suspected assassin Bothwell, his therapy of the Queen and whether or not she is a keen participant or sufferer. May Melville have accomplished extra to guard the Queen?
There’s a reminder that Mary is a human, and that line which throws a unique mild on Melville.
The dialogue and performances are such that although there are solely three characters for almost all of the play, you may’t assist however really feel a way of the urgency and hazard of the time.
Not a phrase of what Munro has written is wasted.
I believed Mary was a gripping piece of theatre, not nearly politics and faith however the energy and prejudice of the patriarchy. The drawback she faces due to her intercourse is writ giant all through. And I’ll give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Mary, Hampstead Theatre
Written by Rona Munro
Directed by Roxana Silbert
Working time: 90 minutes with out an interval
Reserving till 26 November; for extra particulars and to purchase tickets, head to the Hampstead Theatre web site.
Just lately reviewed:
King Hamlin, Park Theatre ⭐️⭐️ and a half, reserving till 12 November
Good, Harold Pinter Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ reserving till 24 December