Venue: Star On The Sea Theatre (Manly NSW), Jul 4 – 19, 2014
Writer: Emma Willis (based on Mary Stuart by Schiller)
Director: Roz Riley
Cast: Daniel Csutkai, Deborah Mulhall, Dimity Raftos, Luke Middlebrook, Melissa Kathryn Rose, Michela Carattini, Roberto Zenca, Ross Scott, Samantha Beames
The story of Queen Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots is a well-known one. Torn apart by politics and religion, their feud remains a poignant tale about the ties that bind, and the ways they can break. Emma Willis’ script is an update of Schiller’s play from 1800. The language feels contemporarised, but still poetic and nuanced. The narrative is well structured, and detailed. The complex sequence of events and relationships are relayed to dramatic effect, but it works also as a history lesson for those might be unfamiliar with the saga.
The show is put together with enthusiasm, but the material is challenging. The team is not an experienced one, and the production does not produce enough nuance or creativity for their show to captivate. Queen Mary is played by Michela Carattini who looks half the age of her character. Carattini provides delightful balletic lines with her physicality, but lacks the maturity required for portraying such dire and ominous circumstances. Dimity Raftos is a regal Queen Elizabeth, and we feel her frustration about the state of affairs, but the range of emotions depicted needs to be expanded for the Queen’s perspective to hit home. Notable supporting players include Samantha Beames who demonstrates solid authenticity as Hanna, and Daniel Csutkai who stands out with playful flamboyance, but he could benefit from a little restraint.
The tale is dramatic, but the show’s direction is simple and direct. In the hands of stronger members of the cast, we follow the plot adequately, but scenes become confusing when performances falter. Not all who love the theatre receives opportunities for formal training, but they should not be discouraged from participation. The selection of text is crucial, and on this occasion, the discrepancy between the group’s ability and the script’s demands is significant. Every moment on stage is a learning experience, and there is no doubt that these thespian talents will continue to flourish.