Sep. 12, 2012 - Issue #882: Down On The Farm
A testament to passion
Mary finds contrast between the hearts and minds of two queens
The Passion of Mary
Directed by Glenda Stirling
Roxy Theatre, $16 – $26
Set during the final days of the incarceration of Mary Queen of Scots, The Passion of Mary hosts a story that can be found clearly in its title: there once lived a woman named Mary, and she was full of passion. It seems a simple premise, but a stark contrast between a woman of the heart and a woman of the mind is constructed here, and the resulting show is quite affecting.
Playwright Annette Loiselle's twist on the historical event sees Queen Elizabeth I—Mary's cousin and captor—appear to Mary in a series of revealing conversational hallucinations that are punctuated by Mary's flashbacks. Loiselle's intended representation of Mary is clear from the start. If emotions are a weakness, the plot's intent is to reveal the strength and courage that can be found in that so-called weakness. Mary is defined by traditional notions of what it means to be a woman, and plays opposite to the illusory Elizabeth who is the calculating and ever-composed Queen. There are moments in the play when Loiselle's perspective unabashedly shines through, like when Mary forcefully shames Elizabeth for never revealing her emotional side. These moments sometimes made the message difficult to comply with, but there always seemed to be enough self-reflection on Mary's part to have it appear balanced in the end. Even if you are firmly planted in Elizabeth's corner as far as temperament goes, if a play were going to successfully invite you into a deeply passionate take on life, it would be this one.
The two immediate triumphs of this production are the set and acting. Only Bretta Gerecke could make a backdrop of sliced-up cardboard boxes work so hard. The show hosts a dynamic set that is in perfect conversation with the lighting design. The results are beautiful, pragmatic and meaningful. Then, Loiselle as Mary and Siân Williams as Elizabeth (as well as five other characters) deliver thoroughly absorbing performances. Williams in particular is a delight to behold as she elegantly shifts between her many characters that range from British to Scottish, male to female, servant to Queen. Her transformations are impressively instantaneous. At times, only the slightest movements are perceptible, and yet it is immediately clear that she has fully altered. In all, this production—that has been marinating slowly in Loiselle's creative mind for nearly two decades now—is a testament to talent and passion. vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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