Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mary Stuart (The SOB Review)

Mary Stuart (The SOB Review) – Broadhurst Theatre, New York, New York

*** (out of ****)

It was the best of times (and sigh!) it was the dullest of times.

Fortunately, once you sit through the extraordinarily dry exposition of the first act of Phyllida Lloyd’s ultimately worthy revival of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart (with new adaptation by Peter Oswald), you’re in for one of the year’s most powerfully explosive acts, period.

Thanks to the unusually fierce, bravura performances from Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter starring as cousins Queen Mary of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I, respectively, Mary Stuart comes close to becoming a theatrical tour de force of epic proportions.

Certainly from the start, McTeer and Walter are more than enough to whet anyone’s appetite. But it’s not until the gales from the onset of Act Two that their portrayals of the original dueling divas truly reigns down on the stage with an intensity so pure and genuine that you forget for a moment you’re watching something set back in time over 400 years.

For the second year in a row, I’ve witnessed a level of virtuosity from McTeer I never before could have imagined (in 2008, I saw her extraordinary turn in the earlier London mounting of the Tony-winning hit God Of Carnage). While Walter nearly goes toe to toe, McTeer offers that rarest of theatrical delights: a performance for the ages.

So if you’re like me and easily tire of Mary Stuart’s labored first act (despite McTeer and Walter’s exceptional efforts), rest assured that after intermission, you’re bound to get just a little, well, moist.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 02 July, 2009, Blogger Landice Anderson said...

I have heard that about the first act, but I am prepared. Sigh. I am excited and ready for act two, though. I was worried that from the third row I would get wet, but I heard that they contain the water pretty well. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it. I can't wait! :D

At 02 July, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I was also seated in the third row, but did not get the slightest bit wet. Act Two is very mesmerizing. Enjoy!

At 02 July, 2009, Blogger karigee said...

See, and I wasn't bothered by Act I at all. The language and the acting were so powerful -- esp. Elizabeth's (yes, long) speech to that French dude about why she's so reluctant to marry. I'd never seen the "character" of Elizabeth I from quite that perspective before, and it opened the whole thing up to me: just how much these women were walking a fine line not only as rulers but as women, and how they both had everything to lose with every choice they made. I agree that Act II packs in all the action, but without the exposition and character development of Act I, I'm not sure I would have found it nearly as riveting. As it was, I was riveted throughout. (And here is where I'm hoping that "riveting" means what I think it means... :)

At 02 July, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Riveting comments, Kari. Thanks for sharing your perspective!


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