I saw Mary Stuart at the Apollo on friday night. I'm a huge fan of Tudor history- well, I used to be in high school anyway, so I couldn't pass up watching this. The acting was simply brilliant. By all accounts I've always read about Mary, Queen of Scots, she;s portrayed as a weak woman who was influenced by the men around her which led to her misfortune. I guess this is also because most of the books I've read on the subject have been rather pro- Elizabeth I.
Anyway, this play does a brilliant job of showing us what both women were going through at the time when Elizabeth had to decide if she was going to give the Royal order to place Mary's head on the block. There is a electrifying scene between the two women where Mary totally loses her composer and tells Elizabeth off- she has been begging for mercy but perhaps she feels that it won't help, or she cannot beg for mercy at Elizabeth's feet being Royal herself, but she talks of how England changed her official religion four times under four seperate rulers, and that she deserves respect due to a queen, and that Elizabeth is a bastard!! Elizabeth of course is appalled as Mary tells her off in front of Leicester and co. and is quite shook up by the meeting. Leicester himself is shown as the weakest link- he cannot fight for Mary because he has not given up hope that Elizabeth might just marry him someday. But at the same time it is not love guiding him but cowardice and laziness.
The script is brilliant. As Elizabeth cleverly avoids an engagement with France, she says something like I will give this ring as a symbol that one day I might marry the King of France, but rings are funny things because that is what chains are made of! Its truly fantastic. There are jabs at the Catholic Church as well, Mortimer, who wants to rescue Mary tells her he has been to a priest who has forgiven him his past sins and absolved him of any sins to come. He then tells her he is ready to murder his uncle, her jailor, for the cause and as Mary looks agahst at the suggestion, he reminds her he has already been forgiven for sins to come! If only the blind could see.... and this brings me to another point--
Funny thing, I went to meet my brother yesterday and he's reading 'The Great Indian Novel' by Shashi Tharoor- its the Mahabharata retold but set during the time of Independance. (Talk about coincidence!!) Instead of the decay of the morals of the higher orders (the Brahmins and Kshatriyas) this one talks of the decay set in society at the end of the British Rule in India. I haven't read the book but he told me that Dhritarashtra, the blind King who lets his son's wreak havoc in the original is Pandit Nehru in the book and the author asks how different the story of India might have been if the blind man could see. Interesting!!