Mary Queen of Scots got her Head Chopped Off, Lyceum, Review

Submitted by Editor on Wed, 21 Sep '11 5.13pm
Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Royal Lyceum and Dundee Rep Theatre
Liz Lochead (writer), Tony Cownie (director)
Ann Louise Ross (Corbie) Shauna Macdonald (Mary and Others) Emily Winter(Elizabeth and Others),Stephen McCole (Bothwell & others),
Liam Brennan (Knox & others), Kevin Lennon (Riccio&others),
Lewis Hart (Darnley & others) Morna Young (Ensemble Musician)
Running time

Mary of Guises’ lassie, Mary Queen of Scots, is probably the most romantic person in British history, never mind Scots history. If Scottish estate agents were to be believed when selling historical property, she slept in every bed in Scotland. Much blood on both sides of the religious divide was shed in her name, even hundreds of years after her execution.

Liz Lochhead wrote this play in 1987 as homage to the anti-sectarian lobby. It tells the story of the regnant queen from her early days to her demise on the scaffold, showing us the origins of modern sectarianism and how its palsied hand still reaches through the centuries to affect modern society. Indeed, sectarianism is still unfortunately very relevant to the present time, promulgated principally by football rivalry.

This co-production of the Royal Lyceum and the Dundee Rep Ensemble is excellent, very ably directed by Tony Cownie. The hard working cast were a pleasure to behold. Ann Louise Ross as the commentating Corbie brings both levity and understanding to the play, using a wonderful mixture of Scots and English language to keep the piece moving at the right pace, and gave us a scrupulously good performance.

Shauna  Macdonald as Mary and Emily Winter as Elizabeth are well matched and work well. Introducing Knox into the play with an orange flute band was a stroke of genius. I loved the “others” title that most of the cast wore as well as their main character, whether they were portraying their historical part or their modern parts, they conveyed all with admirable conviction.

The set looks like a store room for a theatre company underneath a railway arch, with the ever present spectral image of the John Knox statue, enhanced by a traffic cone hat, looming in the background.

All in all, a very good production, well performed, directed and produced and returning at exactly the right time to show us the futility and juvenility of sectarianism.

Show runs until 15 October