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April 16, 1982 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-04-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

1J,

ARTS
Page 6 Friday, April 16, 1982 The Michigan Daily
'Mary Stuart' keeps its head

By Elliot Jackson
W ALTER- EYSSELINCK is the
chairman of the LSA Theatre and
Drama department. He is also the
Director of the Professional Theatre
Program. He is also the director of
Schiller and Spender's Mary Stuart, the
last production this year of the PTP's
Guest Artist Series.
He is also (one assumes) a man who
is eager to think of himself as an in-
novative interpreter of the classics.
Ironically enough, however, it would
seem that Eysselinck seeks to do so by
ignoring those aspects of his chosen
text that don't suit his purposes or fan-
cy, and introducing uncalled for gim-
mickry.
For the most part, the production
should prove an enjoyable one. The
costumes are gorgeous, the set is
ingenious, the lighting is subtle, the ac-
tors posture gracefully and speak their
lines clearly and forcefully. Eysselinck
has captured very well the pomp and
pageantry to which any costume piece
throws itself open.
What is missing from this production
is a sense of urgency, a general at-
mosphere of people so fraught with ten-
sion, suspicion, jealousy, rage,, and-
terror that they are ready to fly apart
under the pressure. Emotional ex-

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cesses are quashed, and those that do
appear make a mockery of the
proceedings more than anything else.
Examples of this peculiar affliction
this misapprehension of a scene's
emotional impact, are colorful and
varied. The queens (Maggie Fleming
as Mary, Dominique Lowell as
Elizabeth) were engrossing, even
splendid, in their rages of wounded
pride and agonies of self-justification.
In the climactic scene in which they
meet, however, Eysselinck make a
decision to flout the explicit directions
of the text. Originally, Mary says, upon
seeing Elizabeth, "So be it! I will forget
who I was, all that I am;" and then the
original stage direction reads,
"(Throwing herself on the ground
before Elizabeth)."
The thought of this once-proud queen
wallowing before her sister sovereign
appears to have been a distasteful one
to the director. In Eysselinck's version
Mary preserves her dignity by merely
kneeling.. By this gesture Eysselinck
proves that, as far as he is concerned,
the director's version is more
legitimate than the playwright's when
it comes to determining the action on
the stage.
Imagine how much more impact the
scene would have if we saw Mary, from
willfully abasing herself to the point of
lying on the ground before her sister,
rise up in magnificent fury to hurl her
words of proud, bitter scorn! Our in-
terest in the scene would only be
heightened by such extremity of the
contrast.
Similarly, Eysselinck decided again-
st Leicester's faint when he sees Mary's
head hit the block. Leicester (Gregg
Henry), the favorite of Elizabeth and
formerly the betrothed of Mary, is the
one who has engineered the meeting
between the two.
The disaster that became of that en-
counter prompts Elizabeth to appoint
Leicester as the witness to Mary's
execution. The strain of seeing his for-
mer mistress, whom he has renounced
to keep his slippery hold on Elizabeth's
favor, on the point of having her head
lopped off is too much for him; he
swoons to the accompaniment of "(a
loud cry from below)".
In this production, however, Gregg
Henry staggers off stage looking like he's
got appendicitis to the accompaniment
of highly-amplified gargling noises that
articulate themselves into "Kyrie
Eleison, Christe Eleison," before
fading and becoming extremely
irritating background noise.
Given a choice, I would have
preferred to concentrate on Elizabeth's
coming to grips with the fact that she
has gained the world at the expense of
her soul without being distracted by
noises that sounded like those one heard
as a child, pressing one's ear against
the pipes of a swing-set. And what was

S

BIAKf TOWARDS'
3:15
5:15 You'll be glad
7:20 you camel
9:4 2th CENTURY-

1:30
4:151
700
9:3.5

DOMINQUE LOWELL and Maggie Fleming appear as Queen Elizabeth I
and Mary Queen of Scots, in the Department of Theatre and Drama Guest
Artist production of 'Mary Stuart'.

If

I

meant by those weird noises anyway?,
The voice of Protestant England, mur-
muring against the death of Mary
Stuart,:would hardly be expressing it-
self in High Mass terms.
Then gain, when Esselinck does
choose to show us overwrought, highly-
charged emotion, he allows it to
degenerate into travesty. Mortimer
(William Dawson), the nephew of
Mary's jailer, is burning to sweep her
onto a great white horse and gallop off
into the sunset. His zeal to rescue her,
to be her knight and possess her solely,
becomes more and more frightening as
his ecstacy becomes a venomous,
monomanical passion which threatens
to destroy what he most desires.
But we don't see any of that, because

Dawson's interpretation presents such
a bland duplicitous, petulant, puppy-
like fellow that Mortimer's aspirations
of storming his uncle's castle and ab-
ducting Mary by force are far more
ridiculous than sublime. His climactic
scene with her, wherein his declared
adoration degenerates before our eyes
into a lustful and jealous frenzy,
became in this context a silly slap-and-
tickle episode, more appropriate in its
lunging and grabbing to commedia
dell'arte than to historical tragedy.

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Enroll in Army ROTC
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at
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son

Eysselinck's greatest sins in this
production, therefore, are those of not
trusting the text and its explicit dire
tions to guide his actions in telling the
story. Consequently, the productiion
was competent, colorful, and decently--
acted, but it was not what it could have
been.
And for those of you who find it od
that I should undertake to review a'r,
Guest Artist Series production and nat'
mention the guest artist, let it here be
noted that Barry boys is an over-
bearing, arrogant, smooth Lord
Burleigh, Lord High Treasurer. In
short, he was practically perfect, and
not at all as overpowering as he could
have been; which is as much of a contA
pliment to the sturdiness of the cast
to him.

'jri

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