Schiller's Mary Stuart is a storm of fierce and thrilling argument. The scenes thunder in like the surf at Torrey Pines--as one rolls by you barely have time to catch your breath before the next one crashes over you.
My analogy is intentional. The play, written in 1800, is Romantic drama at its best, and we don't get a lot of that these days, except maybe in corn syruped Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. The Romantics, remember, were the ones who rediscovered nature, especially violent, potent nature, non-stop nature, the nature of the grand sublime--one reason why later painters flocked to paint the Rocky Mountains. And one reason why you should flock to the Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater.
For Schiller, it was human nature in extremis that sparked the lightning. Each scene is Mary Stuart is an argument, and each argument has right on both sides. Each side has a truth to tell, and each truth excludes the other. In this respect the play is absolutely modern. It's a Romantic version of Renaissance history that sometimes sounds like a presidential debate. The stakes could not be higher--an economic recovery now, the pending execution of a monarch then. Our production, very much influenced by the one directed by Phyllida Lloyd that we saw in London a few years ago, acknowledges the simultaneity of historical and contemporary action that is essential to the play's brilliance.
This is not ye olde Masterpiece Theatre, as fine as that often is. There are no lutes in tapestried rooms. There are no men in tights. These are the corporate corridors, now and then.
These are stone hives ruled by two elevated and bejeweled Queens who are as much imprisioned than empowered.
For a moment we invite you to forget your Fox News and your CSNBC. Come take a look at real power in action, come to where the lightning strikes and the thunder crashes. These players speak poetry and the heads of state are better dressed. Both heads rock; one will roll.