Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off at The Spring, Havant

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REVIEW: Beauty and The Beast at Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham

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As articulated by the narrator, it’s the story of ‘Two Queens on the one green island’.

Using a catwalk-like set to showcase the outlandish costumes, La Corbie – a Scot word for crow – begins to recount a tale of love, lust, jealousy, duty and honour.

Liz Lockhead’s contemporary Scottish classic unfolds through the inner circles of two of the most famous Queens in history: Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. Using creative staging and atmospheric music, the story begins with a newly widowed Mary, who is returning to Scotland and Elizabeth I meeting with prospective suitors.

The potentially challenging text, as well as being written in a Scottish dialect, sees each actor take on multiple roles. Cleverly, the actresses playing each Queen also play the other’s maid, hinting at an unseen relationship between the two women.

This relentlessly energetic production features some fine performances especially from Helen Stoddart, who fluently moves from character to character flawlessly delivering a different accent for each.

Sam Sampson’s punk-rock vision is an interesting take on this stylized version of history, providing an entertaining and at times, powerful piece of theatre.

Until Saturday.

BETH EVANS