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CRITICS LOSE THEIR HEADS OVER MARY STUART

CRITICS LOSE THEIR HEADS OVER

JANET McTEER AND HARRIET WALTER IN
MARY STUART

THE DONMAR WAREHOUSE PRODUCTION OF THE CLASSIC

FRIEDRICH SCHILLER PLAY, IN A NEW VERSION BY PETER OSWALD

AND DIRECTED BY PHYLLIDA LLOYD, OPENS TO RAVES

The Donmar Warehouse Production of Friedrich Schiller’s MARY STUART, in a new version by Peter Oswald and directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter, opened last night on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre.   

Here are the links to the reviews of the production: 

Ben Brantley, New York Times

http://theater2.nytimes.com/2009/04/20/theater/reviews/20mary.html?ref=arts

“You can argue all you like, as historians and theologians have for centuries, about which of them has the greater claim to the English throne. But after seeing the terrifically exciting new production of Friedrich Schiller’s “Mary Stuart,” which opened Sunday night at the Broadhurst Theater, you won’t doubt that both the queens it portrays are born to rule. So, I might add, are the actresses who play them.

That would be Janet McTeer, as Mary Queen of Scots, and Harriet Walter, as Elizabeth I. And they embody what may be the most storied rivalry in English history with a transfixing willfulness and devious artistry that could easily make the susceptible lose their heads. This being the year of our Lord 2009, no such sacrifices will be demanded literally. But it’s hard not to be at least a little in love with – and more than a little in awe of – the very leading ladies in Phyllida Lloyd’s crackling revival (first seen at the Donmar Warehouse in London) of this 1800 tragedy of double-dealing politics.

The classical combination of strengths, weakness and circumstance that define tragic heroes has seldom been parsed with such flash, vigor and lacerating insight.”

Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post

http://www.nypost.com/seven/04202009/entertainment/theater/queens_for_any_day_165301.htm

“Spring has brought plenty of hyped shows and stars to Broadway. But don’t let those high- wattage marquees blind you to this sleeper, which delivers plenty more thrills than most of its neighbors.

A London import as gripping as it is elegant, “Mary Stuart” is packed with political machinations, mind games and rhetorical bouts about justice and power. Think of it as “Frost/Nixon” with women, beheadings and ruffs.

Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/arts/2009/04/20/2009-04-20_a_family_battle_royal_in_mary_stuart.html

“What to do about that pesky cousin? Behead her? Have her killed? Let her rot in jail?

Those questions face Elizabeth I in “Mary Stuart,” now on Broadway in a bold revival from London’s Donmar Warehouse. Friedrich Schiller’s drama, adapted by Peter Oswald, depicts shifting loyalties by all the queens’ men, but this slice of history is all about the leading ladies.

With Tony winner Janet ­McTeer (“A Doll’s House”) as Mary and Harriet Walter as Elizabeth, who signed her rival’s death warrant, there’s a pair of powerhouses on the thrones of Scotland and England.”

Linda Winer, Newsday

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/stage/ny-etstu2012670671apr18,0,4181778.story

“Just when you think you’re catching up with this speedway of a Broadway spring season, along comes a real stunner to move the finish line again. How thrilling.

“Mary Stuart,” which opened last night in a production from London’s Donmar Warehouse, is a riveting showcase for Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter – two towering actresses in a monumentally entertaining regina smackdown.

But this is more than just a star vehicle about the deadly collision of the Protestant Elizabeth I and Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scotland. Phyllida Lloyd, the director known here only for “Mamma, Mia!,” has staged Peter Oswald’s taut three-hour compression of Friedrich Schiller’s massive 1800 drama with all the visceral, unpredictable psychology of a popular page-turner.”

Mike Kuchwara, Associated Press

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/04/19/entertainment/e160010D25.DTL

“It’s quite a faceoff.

“Mary Stuart” superbly explores the link between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, royal relatives locked in a grim battle that only one can win. But what elevates this adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s venerable play to even greater heights are the thrilling performances of the actresses who portray these formidable ladies: Janet McTeer as Mary and Harriet Walter as Elizabeth.

The suspense is palpable despite the fact we know how the play will end. Credit director Phyllida Lloyd and adapter Peter Oswald, who have created a taut tale of political intrigue, a bruising contest in which the prize is England itself.

The men have been particularly well cast, creating credible, individualistic performances in roles that could become a blur. Among the more memorable portraits are Brian Murray’s commonsense Shrewsbury, a man infused with a generosity of spirit, and John Benjamin Hickey as Shrewsbury’s polar opposite, the duplicitous, calculating Leicester. An intense Chandler Williams also scores as Mortimer, an ardent young supporter of Mary.

But the women are the main focus here, and when the two queens finally meet in Act 2 after an artfully prolonged build-up, the fireworks are more than royal. Call them electrifying, lifting this version of “Mary Stuart” into the realm of high-powered, classic drama.”

David Rooney, Variety

http://www.variety.com/VE1117940074.html

“Phyllida Lloyd’s steely revival of the Friedrich Schiller play simmers and scalds as it should, but it’s the deft balance of the parallel tragedies of two imprisoned queens that makes the production so enthralling. . . .

 Just as Christopher Hampton did with “The Seagull” earlier this season, Peter Oswald’s new version vigorously shakes the dust off the Schiller text. This is no stodgy history lesson but a juicy regal smackdown rendered in direct, muscular language .

This is a superbly focused production that permits no distractions from the antithetical arcs of its heroines, or the political machinations that shape their tragedies.”

Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record

http://www.northjersey.com/entertainment/stage/43262762.html?page=all

“The revival of Friedrich Schiller’s 1800 play “Mary Stuart” is vibrant, audacious and, as the plots are hatched that will send Mary to the gallows, improbably funny. This alchemy is the result of a charged and witty adaptation by Peter Oswald, imaginative direction by Phyllida Lloyd and glorious performances by Janet McTeer (Mary) and Harriet Walter (Elizabeth).”

John Simon, Bloomberg News

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=acVEPFlholUw&refer=muse

“The acting is properly timeless.  Janet McTeer is a thoroughly believable Mary: handsome, beautifully spoken, and almost acrobatically agile. Harriet Walter’s Elizabeth shuttles provocatively between starchiness and giddiness, grandeur and ultimate forlornness

And let us not overlook the unscripted rain — the wettest and most real ever staged — to make you fear for the drenched actors’ health. Above all, it is nice to see — whatever kept England and Scotland apart — the English and American theaters so seamlessly blended.”

Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film-reviews/theater-review-mary-stuart-1003964062.story

“Friedrich von Schiller’s 1800 historical drama of royal intrigue comes to blazing life in director Phyllida Lloyd’s staging, imported to Broadway after hugely acclaimed stints at London’s Donmar Warehouse and on the West End. Starring Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter, both making far-too-belated returns to the New York stage, “Mary Stuart” looks to be the prestige hit of the spring season.

Walter and McTeer deliver superbly riveting performances. The former is all tight control, gradually peeling away Elizabeth’s formidable reserve to display the deep anguish caused by her immense responsibilities, and the latter provides an emotive, vigorous turn that emphasizes Mary’s passion, both physical and emotional.

The male players, newly cast for this American production, provide sterling support, with particularly vivid turns by John Benjamin Hickey as the scheming Leicester, Brian Murray as the sympathetic Shrewsbury and Nicholas Woodeson as the calculating Lord Burleigh.”

David Cote, Time Out New York

http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/theater/73697/mary-stuart-at-broadhurst-theatre-theater-review

“Five Stars!  This is a juicy historical drama about two glamorous divas going at it hammer and tongs.  Director Phyllida Lloyd Lloyd and her sublime leading ladies ensure that our sympathies keep ping-ponging until the very end. When I caught the original, more intimate staging at London’s Donmar Warehouse in 2005, the action felt weighted toward beleaguered, pious Mary and against the coolly manipulative Elizabeth. Here, however, there’s no imbalance. In one scene our hearts break for the magnificently hot-blooded McTeer; in the next Walter shows us how she too is just as trapped and desperate. Neither woman is purely a victim, but neither are they political free agents. The look of barely contained desolation on Walter’s face in the final moments of the play-as Elizabeth emerges the winner-is chilling beyond words.

John Lahr, The New Yorker

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/theatre/2009/04/27/090427crth_theatre_lahr

“The excellent support of John Benjamin Hickey, Chandler Williams, and Nicholas Woodeson as backbiting Tudor courtiers in Friedrich Schiller’s 1800 play “Mary Stuart” (at the Broadhurst, in an outstanding new version by Peter Oswald) gives a special wallop to the evening’s main event: the showdown between the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots (the strapping Janet McTeer), against Queen Elizabeth I (the fine-boned Harriet Walter). “Mary Stuart” is an exercise in eloquence and intrigue. McTeer and Walter are British actors of exemplary intelligence and sinew. They are alert and articulate; they parse every nuance of every word. The political pragmatism may be predictable, but the theatrical pyrotechnics with which it’s displayed are exceptional.”

www.MaryStuartOnBroadway.com 

 

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