Mary Stuart

Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter star in Freidrich Schiller's political thriller.

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It’s 1587, and Mary Queen of Scots has been held under house arrest in England for 19 years by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. (Mary had fled from Scotland after a Protestant coup under the delusion that Elizabeth would help her, but the ruling queen knows Mary’s Catholic followers would dearly love to see Elizabeth overthrown in favor of Mary.) Although the two women never met in real life, Friedrich Schiller’s historical drama includes a dramatic showdown outside the castle where Mary is held prisoner.

Should I See It?

What Is Mary Stuart like?
It’s all about the ladies—in this case, British stage stars Janet McTeer as Mary and Harriet Walter as Elizabeth, both of whom give powerful performances. Among director Phyllida Lloyd’s smart choices are outfitting the queens in period dress and the male advisors in modern-day suits, which emphasizes the women’s isolation. Until the end of the play, everyone on stage is dressed in black, performing in front of a black brick wall, all of which adds to the production’s starkness and intensity. Though the play runs two hours and 45 minutes, Lloyd keeps the action moving smartly, building to the climactic scene between the two queens.

Is Mary Stuart Good for Kids?
The play’s convoluted history and political intrigue make Mary Stuart too complicated for younger children to enjoy, but high school-age history buffs will delight in this royal battle of wits.

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