England v. Scotland

ma1It was a good night of theater for the Scots. Mary Stewart is yet another take on the Mary, Queen of Scots/Elizabeth I smackdown. In this version, beautifully transferred to Broadway from the Donmar Warehouse in London, British national treasures Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter play the battling Queens who are Kings.

I like small theater but I’ve always said it’s nice to see what they can do with a big budget. The second act opens with Mary enjoying a brief taste of freedom from prison. She dances in a surprisingly realistic stage-soaking rainstorm and then confronts Elizabeth. Impressive stage effects are nice but it’s just window dressing without superb acting behind it. This is the only scene in the entire three hour production where the two face off and Mary, Queen of Scots, takes down Elizabeth I in one round. Pow.

Phyllida Lloyd, the smart director, dressed the two Queens in period costumes but the men around them in contemporary dark suit and tie. It made them look like the bureaucrats they are. A very clever conceit.

I am such a sucker for British drama. I don’t really like Russian theater and some American playwrights leave me cold. But the UK seems to consistently pump out one great show after another. Thanks, guys!

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