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“Wyn Davies, who already earned his Most Valuable Player award this week… tackles the Earl of Leicester and gives us every element of that vain, tortured man…Has Lucy Peacock ever given a better performance…Seana McKenna delivers all the mercurial moods the part requires”.
Coulbourn explains how Cimolino “collaborates with an impressive design team led with understated elegance by Eo Sharp and a truly magnificent cast, led by Lucy Peacock as Mary and Seana McKenna as Elizabeth, to bring the script to riveting life”.
“Watching the rival queens of Elizabeth and Mary, played respectively by McKenna and Peacock, is a breath-taking marvel…To see such actors on stage together in their artistic prime is a privilege…the festival has been brought back on course by an artistic compass that runs true and strong.”
“…this is the Earl of Leicester presented, not too historically, as Mary’s admirer as well as Elizabeth’s and emerging…Was a master of realpolitik and of playing one side against another, almost – but not quite – as ruthlessly successful as the Tudor monarch herself; there’s something shabby about his manoeuvres as there isn’t about hers.”
“One of the best speeches comes from the mercurial Ian Lake as Mortimer, his condemnation of a Protestant church that “hates the senses, bans the image, worships nothing but the abstract word” was so convincing, I nearly converted on the spot….It’s amazing that Mary Stuart is so edge-of-your-seat suspenseful when the outcome is never in doubt”
Smith considers Stratford’s “Mary Stuart” a piece of “real theatre” because of its use of visuals. “…with Eo Sharp’s daring minimalist settings and stunning period costumes. Add Steven Hawkins’ moody atmospheric lighting and you have a perfect terrain across which Cimolino’s production unfolds.”
“Designer Eo Sharp uses objects sparingly but to great effect…The relatively minimal staging, coupled with elaborate costumes, allows director Antoni Cimilino to focus on his actors, who make the courtly intrigue both epically important and personal.”
Portman focuses on “Mary Stuart”, “Blithe Spirit” and “The Three Musketeers”. He praises “Cimolino’s gripping vision and Peter Oswald’s sizzling new translation.” He found very little” enjoyment in The Three Musketeers and “some surprising moments of unnecessary brutality.” Portman gives kudos to McKenna’s roles such as “a performance of dotty perfection as Madame Arcati”.
Hadley reviews “Romeo and Juliet”, “Blithe Spirit”, and “Mary Stuart”. He enjoyed the “original practices” method in “Romeo and Juliet”, but thought Briere “is not effective”. Hardley praises the “superb” cast of “Blithe Spirit” and states director “Cimolino has assembled one of Stratford’s best casts in years” for “Mary Stuart”.
Godfrey discovers “There is much in the text relative to current events in a post 9/11 society”, especially the conflicts faced by Elizabeth [Seana McKenna], and Mary [Lucy Peacock]. However, she concludes “this production of Mary Stuart comes across as slightly more historical than political.”
“The different sets designed by Eo Sharp can quickly transport the audience from a prison cell, to a palace, to a courtyard with great effect…Eerie chorales echo throughout the Tom Patterson Theatre, setting the mood and the era.”
Fischer finds common themes in the various productions he saw, including “Tommy”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Waiting For Godot” and a preview of “Taking Shakespeare”. He notes “Cimolino has succeeded, spectacularly — allowing plays written and set centuries apart to speak to each other and to us in new ways.”
Jones states “Taking Shakespeare” “feels like one of those contrived dramas written expressly to fill a slot”. He regards “Mary Stuart”, “Waiting for Godot” and “Blithe Spirit”. He gives kudos to Stewart, French and Hutton in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Kushnier and Nolan in “Tommy”.
“Under the watchful eye of Antoni Cimolino, this entire production moves with grace and fluidity – the pace never seems rushed, but the momentum of it carries you from the very first moment to the heart-rending conclusion.”
Karas states director Cimolino “has inserted a several coups de théâtre such as putting the intermission in the middle of Act III just as Mary and Elizabeth meet. But that is the least of his intelligent, judicious and indeed outstanding direction.”
“The play is fascinating enough for in its portrayal of the famed rival queens in the Elizabethan age. But Schiller’s examination of a political problem in which there can be no good outcome gives the play a surprising ring of modernity.”
“This exciting production of Mary Stuart with its neat touches of stagecraft and remarkable character portrayals comes complete with a powerful emotional pull that arises largely from Mary’s self-created doom. She is very much the tragic heroine as she finally appeals to heaven.”
“McKenna’s Queen is, for the most part, made of brass; but she lacks the confidence to make and stand by tough decisions, torn between the expectations of her station and her own vain concerns over her reputation. Peacock walks that fine line between manipulation and genuine sympathy, spiked with a fierce underlying pride.”
“Peacock is at the top of her game, delivering to the audience a conflicted soul,a misunderstood figure and clearly seen by the author as the personification of tragedy. Yet McKenna is equally successful capturing Elizabeth’s different sides, as a strong-minded woman who is nonetheless trapped in her own metaphysical dilemma”