Blackbird Theatre

Mary Stuart
by Friedrich von Schiller
translated by Robert David Macdonald

Dates 6 - 28 September 2005 Venue Vancouver East Cultural Centre Reviewer Jane Penistan


 

 

Director John Wright Set and costume design Marti Wright Lighting design Del Surjik Sound editor Amos Hertzman Dramaturge Errol Durbach Choreographer Catherine Lee Fight director Adam Henderson Projections Tim Matheson Stage manager Melissa Power


Gwynyth Walsh as Queen Elizabeth, photo by Tim Matheson

Blackbird Theatre is a new professional company in Vancouver dedicated to performing the classics. The first play to be presented is Mary Stuart, at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

This powerful play has been seen intermittently, internationally, since Schiller wrote it in 1800. Now there is an opportunity to see this magnificent drama performed by a talented cast under John Wright's more than capable direction.

The influential courtiers and scheming Stuart adherents are all endeavouring to find a solution to the problem of the succession to the crown of England. Religious factions plot and conspire against each other, each trying to impose domination. Accusations of planning to lead a rebellion are levelled at Mary and her private papers and property ransacked by Elizabeth's servants.

In the climax of the play Schiller envisages a meeting of the two Queens. Charming, pleasure loving, deprived Mary retains her dignity and outgoing warmth and humanity in the face of Elizabeth's rigidly disciplined hauteur. Both believe sincerely in their religious principles and in what is the best course for their country. But in this power struggle Elizabeth has the upper hand, as the conquering sovereign, while Mary displays courage, humanity, suffering and deprivation, in the face of an implacable opponent.

 

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By the advice of her courtiers and by Elizabeth's own unwilling decision, Mary Stuart is finally condemned to death. The later scenes still provide unexpected revelations, before the final horror of the execution.

There are excellent performances throughout this presentation. Both Gabrielle Rose and Gwynyth Walsh, as Mary and Elizabeth give superb performances. Kevin Williamson's Burleigh is authoritative and polished. Both Duncan Fraser and Lee Taylor as Paulet and Shrewsbury have a humanity and warmth in their excellent characterisations.

This is an evening of tremendously powerful drama, a superb play brilliantly directed, well dressed and beautifully acted by a very talented cast. Blackbird is a welcome addition to Vancouver's theatre scene, filling a needful role with courage and flair.

Mary Stuart runs at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, September 6 -16, 2005. More information @ www.blackbirdtheatre.ca.

Gabrielle Rose as Queen Mary, photo by Tim Matheson></font></P>
       

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2005 Jane Penistan

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