Watch the Intriguing Tudors in a Historic, Atmospheric Venue; MICHAEL MOFFATT SHOW OF THE WEEK

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), August 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Watch the Intriguing Tudors in a Historic, Atmospheric Venue; MICHAEL MOFFATT SHOW OF THE WEEK


Mary Stuart Freemasons' Hall Until Aug 10 The atmospheric Grand Hall of the Freemasons in Molesworth Street, is an inspired choice for this absorbing 18th-century drama by the great German writer Schiller, about the power struggle between Queen Elizabeth I and her captive cousin Mary Queen of Scots.

The audience sits on either side of the hall, the action takes place in the centre, and at the top of the room stands the throne, the symbolic source of this battle between contending religious and political groups. All round the room, portraits of former grand masters of the order look sternly down. You feel like a spectator at a 16th-century trial.

Schiller's play is a riveting piece of poetic drama, splendidly translated, full of dramatic twists and turns, with spies, double agents and an English security machine that had everything under surveillance. Here you have Mary's fight for life and freedom - she had been a house prisoner for 19 years - balanced by Elizabeth's struggles with political necessity and the demands of conscience.

At the heart of the play is the irony at the heart of all politics, that power enslaves a leader to conflicting advisers and the demands of the mob. Monarchy even demands that Elizabeth should marry. Mary is powerless, but her mere existence is a threat to the Tudor establishment.

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