It Seems Sacrilegious

It does seem sacrilegious to have spoken first of the loo situation at the Almeida Theatre and not the most powerful play I think I have seen, ever. A powerful play wondrously executed by such fine actors. No one could have ever asked for more. The powerful play was, of course, Mary Stuart.

Always these days I buy the script of the plays I see performed. In doing so I learn that the play was actually written by Friedrich Schiller, a German guy from long ago. He was born in 1759. (Phew! Finally an older man, these young guys who covet me make me feel old). The play was adapted by Robert Icke. A more energetic person would read the two and compare them. Go ahead, who is stopping you? The back cover of the script says: “Two queens. One in power. One in prison. It’s all in the execution.” i do realize that lauding this play and this performance is cruel. Why? Because it is over and done with. Well, at the Almeida anyway. I was fortunate, I saw it twice. Those not in the know should know that Lia Williams and Juliet Stevenson do a coin toss at the beginning of the performance to determine who will play Mary and who will play Elizabeth. I was fortunate, I saw it both ways. I think I preferred Lia’s Elizabeth but that was the last way I saw it. I am a woman of last impressions. In a sense, it seemed like a different play the second time around. I am not sure why. I was so moved that at the end of the performance I did not have the energy to stand and applaud. Its quality deserved such accolades. was exhausted. I do get into powerful plays and emote. Much to the chagrin of people in the cheap seats, but not in the expensive seats. This has happened to me twice at the Almeida. So here is my advice. If you are an emoter spring for the expensive seats. I emoted in Oil and was therefore invited to drinks with the playwright and the director. So it can be considered a good trait. But not by those in the cheap seats. I am not noisy when I emote, well except when I laugh. Many, many people say that I have the best laugh in London. Valentine Palmer says that I laugh from my diaphragm. He knows a lot about those things.

But it was not my emoting but rather my connections that got me to drinks afterwards with the cast. I am not going to tell you all of the history and background of my connections at this moment but I am going to tell a funny story. I do so with Lia William’s permission. I was at the Almeida Theatre about three weeks ago, in the cafe talking to Katie Wellington, the legacy person. It was a matinee afternoon and Lia was there. She saw me in the cafe and came over to our table. I worship her. I do. I think she is the best actress ever and I have seen her in several plays. I laughingly told her that afternoon that I was going to form a fan club on her behalf. I told her that I had experience in that field of endeavor as I had been the president of an Elvis Presley fan club and that my best friend Beth was the secretary. But then I became too honest with Lia and told her the bitter truth. The truth, as revealed to me by friend Beth, is that there were only two members in the club. Lia laughed and said that would probably be the fate of the Lia Williams fan club, only two members. I laughed, Katie laughed and now you will laugh. Parenthetically I do think that Lia is wrong. There would be hundreds, if not thousands of members.

Most of the cast were at the Almeida Bar and I met most of them. But wait until you hear this! Lia’ pointed to a handsome young man and said: “That is my son, he was in the play,” I even think she introduced him to me. Wow, he was amazing and he was almost a stand in. It was very last minute and if I remember correctly it was only this third performance, I was in awe. My theatre past includes many Matt Wolf’s lectures and interviews. He interviewed Lia in 2013 when she was performing with Kirstin Scott Thomas in Pinter’s Old Times. The two actresses alternated roles, just as was done in Mary Stuart. I saw that play both ways, just as I had with Mary. I preferred Lia, perhaps I am prejudiced. Matt spoke of Lia and her son this year at his course at the Victoria and Albert Museum. So I knew Lia had a son and I knew that he was an actor. I do remember Matt said he interviewed Lia years and years ago and her son came with her to the interview. He was so little, so cute and so in awe of his mother. I can believe it because now he is big, he is handsome but still in awe of his mother. As scores of us are.

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