"Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off" Review - Edinburgh University Theatre Company

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Design: Murid Laly, Photo: Elise Coward

"Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off" can be summed up in one word: immersive. From the expectedly stellar acting, to the mind blowing stage design and incredible lighting, Bedlam Theatre was unrecognisable. 

Kirsten Millar drives the entire show more than expertly. Her vocals, both spoken and sung, are captivating, and her comedic timing is perfect. Eilidh Northridge as the titular character is moving, and you really feel sad for her eventual demise, which is, of course, having her head chopped off, which is expertly choreographed on stage. Megan Lambie steals the show in her roles, primarily as Elizabeth I. Both Northridge and Lambie multirole with such convincing motivation, and despite the fact that these characters could easily have been cast separately, the parallels and contrasts created by the multirolling adds to the quirkiness of the show. All 3 leads are perfectly cast, making for a fantastic viewing experience.

The 3 male parts are also perfectly cast. Jacob Baird particularly stands out as Bothwell, but Harrison MacNeill's John Knox and Will Peppercorn's Darnley are also incredibly entertaining to watch. These strong principles are rounded off by a super strong ensemble made up of Domi Ucar, Bella Charlton, Camilla Makhmudi, Aude Naudi-Bonnemaison and Priya Basra. All five actors are given one liners and facial expressions that steal the stage whenever they're present. They add an energy to play the same way an ensemble does in a musical, and it works really well.

The music was also notably outstanding. It included newly composed songs by Ally Shilson, played beautifully by violinist Robin Gage and actor Camilla Makhmudi who learnt how to play the accordion specifically for the show, but you wouldn't know it. She plays flawlessly, adding an ambient tone to the show.

Matthew Marsland's set is almost certainly the main factor that brings the show to become an immersive experience. The use of creatively designed flats which aided Elissa Webb's beautiful lighting design, as well as platforms and a thrust, which are all perfectly lit just round off this theatrical experience as above and beyond the already very high Bedlam standard.

Katie May Anderson and Megan Tatlow-Walker's costumes are simply stunning. The use of the ruffs to symbolise status, going as far as to symbolise character for the convincing multirolling is so creative and the rest of the costume design also perfectly captures the storytelling creativity of the play.

My only possible criticism is unavoidable: the play is partially inaccessible. The convincing Scots language and accents, whilst adding to the immersion, may make the plot slightly incomprehensible for the unacquainted viewer. With that said, the sacrifice is well worth it and the visual feast would make watching this play worth it even if you didn't speak a word of English.

"Mary Queen of Scots" is so enjoyable that it just flies by. The performances are first rate, the tech is beyond incredible, and the mulled wine was super tasty.

Verdict: ★★★★½

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off" runs until 9th November at Bedlam Theatre.

Tickets: https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/whatson/venue/bedlam/?fbclid=IwAR3rSD5yf6_2JdIPltLsXo2Wscr2mmKNzN1gHbz76rW6JJeR0f4rgmuhrZU


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