by Paula Citron
Soulpepper’s production of Schiller’s 1800 masterpiece Mary Stuart is solid. The philosophical play deals with all sides of an ethical question that affects the affairs of state, and, as such, is extremely relevant to today’s bloodlust politics. Should Elizabeth 1 execute her Catholic cousin Mary Stuart? This is the springboard for Schiller’s inquiry, and Peter Oswald’s cynical translation is right on the mark as an expose of self-serving opportunism.
Yanna McIntosh anchors director Joseph Ziegler’s intelligent production as Mary Stuart and she is nobility itself. Nancy Palk is excellent as the duplicitous Elizabeth, while Hazel Desbarats is out-standing as Mary’s loyal nurse Kennedy. William Webster, C. David Johnson, and Jim Warren are very strong as Elizabeth’s retainers. The key roles of Leicester and Mortimer are played with competence by Stuart Hughes and David Storch respectively.
While the first half does get bogged down as a play of ideas, the second act is riveting.
Mary Stuart continues until Oct. 13.
From the Young Centre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.