City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Master Class, King’s Theatre, Review


By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 09 February 2011

4
Stephanie Beacham as Maria Callas
Show Details
Venue: 
King's Theatre
Company: 
Theatre Royal Bath Productions
Production: 
Terrence McNally (playwright), Jonathan Church (director)
Performers: 
Stephanie Beacham, David Harvey, Robyn North, Scott Hazell, Pamela Hay, Christopher Jacobsen.
Running time: 
135mins

Maria Callas gave her last performance in 1965 in Zeffirelli's production of Tosca at Covent Garden when she was 41. Terrence McNally’s play is set on a stage where a now retired Callas sees a series of students to be taught by the famous diva - a master class. We, the audience, are meant to be there to watch and she tells us not to applaud whilst she is teaching.

As her students arrive one by one she is able to make reference to her brilliance, her versatility and the shortfalls of her competitors, to her major roles and particularly, as she was teaching, to her deep understanding of the meaning of words and how to act them.

It was the students who did the singing and it was recordings of Callas we heard when she went into one of her several trances. But Stephanie Beacham really did do everything else and in just the way one would have expected of a real life Callas. This was the authenticity of the play and Stephanie Beacham, well known on the stage but more so for her parts in television’s Dynasty and The Colbys, seemed such an ideal choice to play the diva.

The lady sitting beside me told me when we were getting up to go that she had a ticket to see Maria Callas in the early sixties on the only occasion she ventured out of London - to Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre. The run was extended because of its popularity but Callas was having nothing of it and went home early and my new found friend had to do with the stand in. Like me she had really enjoyed Master Class.

Show times

Tuesday 8 February at 7.30pm
Wednesday 9 February at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Thursday 10 February at 7.30pm
Friday 11 February at 7.30pm
Saturday 12 February at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.