Philobiblon: To yield or stand firm: the queens' dilemma

Sunday, December 11, 2005

To yield or stand firm: the queens' dilemma

As the Queen of Scots walks to her execution in Schiller's Mary Stuart, she breaks off to confront the Earl of Leicester, the man who has vacillated in his affections and allegiance between her and Queen Elizabeth. Mary spits at Leicester: "You chose the hard heart, not the tender one."

That might sum up the central conflict in the play, which pits two visions of womanhood, and queenhood, against each other, and the world of men in which they must operate.

Phyllida Lloyd 's production, transferred from the Donmar to the Apollo, makes the most of this magnificent conflict, putting the women in period dress and the men in modern bureaucrat uniform of suit and briefcase. The women are at centre stage, literally in the spotlight, but they are buffetted by waves of men seeking through flattery, through blackmail, through trickery and even sometimes force, to turn them into mere puppets. READ MORE


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