• Production image


january 2017 | volume 151


Production image

  Erin Morgan and Alex Lowe. Photo: Nancy Caldwell.

by Liz Lochhead
Vital Spark Theatre
Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery St.
Feb. 16-Mar. 11
www.vitalsparktheatre.com or 604-224-8007 ext. 3

Vital Spark theatre presents the Canadian premiere of
Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off

"Once upon a time there were two queens on the wan green island, and the wan green island was split into two kingdoms. But no equal kingdoms..."

So La Corbie, the ringmaster, the trickster prophetess, cracks her whip and, with her fiddle player at her side, plunges us into the "whispers, rumours, souchs and chatters" that are at the heart of the story of two of history's most intriguing women, Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth I. The stage is set for a deadly game where intrigue, passion, marriage, and murder all spin to La Corbie's telling. We meet the two queens, of course, but also Lord Darney, the young suitor sent by Elizabeth to marry Mary, Mary's secretary David Rizzio (is he her lover also?), as well as her third husband, Bothwell, and snaking between the plottings and secrets, the lean, gaunt figure of John Knox, "as black as night".

Liz Lochhead's Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off is no stately text but a raw, rough telling of the familiar tale of the enmity between Elizabeth and Mary, but here the focus is on Mary, and on how she tries to control a land riven with sectarianism, with plots and counterplots, while continuing to be a passionate and beautiful woman of flesh and blood. In what has been called her "scavenging eclecticism of language," and with ferocious iconoclasm and boundless wit, Lochhead, erstwhile poet laureate of Scotland, sets out a tale of a queen who has failed to learn what Elizabeth did, that a queen must rule with her head, not her heart. 

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off stars Owen KennyAlex Lowe, Genevieve MackayKurtis MaguireErin  Morgan, Geneva Perkins, Bethany Stanley, and Xander Williams.

It is directed by Joan Bryans, with assistant director Barbara Ellison, musical director Genevieve Mackay, choreography by Allyson Riley, set by Todd Parker,  lighting by Chengyan Boon, costumes by Kate E. Carr,  props by Frances Herzer, technical direction by Kianna Skelly, and is stage managed by Nancy Caldwell.

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off runs at the Jericho Arts Centre Feb 17-Mar 11, Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, plus matinee (as well as evening performance) on Saturday March 11.  Preview: Thursday February 16, all tix $12; talk-back night: Thursday  February 23.

Tickets:  $25, seniors and students $20, from www.brownpapertickets.com, or at the door.

Reservations 604 224 8007, ext 3.   

More info: www.vitalsparktheatre.com, facebook: vstheatre   


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Vancouver's arts and culture website providing theatre news, previews and reviews