Mary Stuart

Duke of York's Theatre
St Martin's Lane, London

Public Previews: 13 January 2018
Opens: 25 January 2018
Closes: 31 March 2018

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Nearest Tube: Leicester Square

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Theatre seating plan

Show times
Monday at 7.30pm
Tuesday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 2.00pm and 7.30pm
Thursday at 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.00pm and 7.30pm
Sunday no show
Note: Sat 13 Jan at 7.30pm only
Note: Wed 17 Jan at 7.30pm only
Note: Thu 25 Jan at 7.00pm only

Runs ? hours and ? minutes

Seat prices
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(plus booking fees if applicable)

Mary Stuart

A major revival of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart in London presented in a new adaptation created by Robert Icke and starring Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams

A 'verse-play' by Friedrich Schiller written in German as Maria Stuart. This thrilling play tells the story of Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Mary has been held prisoner for nineteen years. Will her cousin be seen to sentence her to death? When the two women meet there is an energetic fusion of passionate main plots and counter-plots... Two queens. One in power. One in prison. It's all in the execution.

Written in 1800 by Friedrich Schiller, who is often described as 'The German Shakespeare'. Post First World War, the play was first presented on the West End stage in 1958.

This production transfers to London's West End following an acclaimed run at the North London Almeida Theatre in December 2016.

For this West End transfer at the Duke of York's Theatre both Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams are reprising their roles - before each performance they will decide by the toss of a coin which role they will play - either 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' or 'Queen Elizabeth I'. Adaptated and directed by Robert Icke with designs by Hildegard Bechtler, video by Tim Reid, lighting by Jackie Shemesh, music by Laura Marling and sound by Paul Arditti.

When this production opened at North London's Almeida Theatre in December 2016, Sam Marlowe in the Times explained how "at the beginning of each performance of Robert Icke's nerve-shreddingly intense new version of this 1800 Friedrich Schiller classic, a coin is spun to decide which of the two leading actresses Lia Williams or Juliet Stevenson will play the title role and which Elizabeth I. Whatever the outcome and I've seen both you're guaranteed more than three hours of dense, gripping theatre, as the queens face each other in a savagely elegant endgame, and the politics of the past startlingly reflect the present... It's fascinating theatre fiercely pertinent, exhilaratingly potent." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard said that "rather than being a gimmick, director Robert Icke's innovation emphasises that the characters really are two sides of one coin. Each is trapped by public expectations. Icke is also responsible for an energetic new version of the text, and the result is a topical exploration of the haphazardness of politics." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph noted how "the conceit is a canny one and it must be intensely energising for the two leads... The flip side of the cleverness, though, is a certain frustration: unless you catch back-to-back shows, you're going to miss seeing how the playing approaches differ." Neil Norman in the Daily Express thought that "the bare stage and business-suited production would be unbearably dull were it not for the superb performances from both actresses and the ensemble around them. The concluding costume change is an extraordinarily potent coup de thtre." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail praised how "wunderkind director Robert Icke has stripped back Schiller's history play about Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots to its compulsive, animal core. Add to that the ruse of Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams deciding who plays which role by tossing a coin and you have an edgy, tantalising thriller... With subtle, passionate and vigorous acting, this is an intoxicating production... as period realpolitik, this is gripping stuff indeed." Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote that "while I have reservations about the production, the two actors are a pleasure to watch... whatever my qualms about the production, Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams memorably confirm that Elizabeth and Mary are two sides of the same regal coin." Paul Taylor in the i newspaper hailed how "Robert Icke has adapted and directed this extraordinarily gripping, edge-of-your-seat version of Schiller's great play."

This production was original seen at North London's Almeida Theatre - previewed from 2 December 2016, opened on 15 December 2016 and closed on 28 January 2017 - when the original cast featured Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams, who decided at each performance by the toss of a coin which role they would play, either 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' or 'Queen Elizabeth I'; the cast also included Vincent Franklin as 'William Cecil, Lord Burleigh', Rudi Dharmalingam as 'Mortimer', John Light as 'Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester', Sule Rimi as 'Sir Amias Paulet' with Alexander Cobb, Joshua James, David Jonsson, Carmen Munroe, Eileen Nicholas, Daniel Rabin and Alan Williams.

Mary Stuart in London at the Duke of York's Theatre public previews from 13 January 2018, opens on 25 January 2018 and closes on 31 March 2018


Old Vic Theatre (Stephen Spender) Irene Worth and Catherine Lace - 1958

Sadler's Wells Theatre (German version) Heidemarie Hatheyer and Maria Wimmer - 1958

Old Vic Theatre (Stephen Spender) Gwen Taylor and Valerie Taylor - 1960

Greenwich Theatre (Robert David Macdonald) Fiona Shaw and Paola Dionisotti - 1988

National Theatre (Jeremy Sams) Isabelle Huppert and Anna Massey - 1996

Donmar Warehouse / Apollo Theatre (Peter Oswald) Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter - 2005



Old Vic Theatre (Stephen Spender) 1958

Opened 17 September 1958, Closed 8 November 1958 (in repertory) at the Old Vic Theatre

Translated by Stephen Spender.

The cast featured Irene Worth as 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' and Catherine Lacey as 'Queen Elizabeth I' with Kenneth Mackintosh as 'William Cecil, Lord Burleigh'. Directed by Peter Wood.


Sadler's Wells Theatre (German version) 1958

29 and 30 September 1958 at Sadler's Wells Theatre

The cast featured Heidemarie Hatheyer as 'Maria Stuart, Queen of Scots' and Maria Wimmer as 'Queen Elizabeth I' with Rudolf Therkatz as 'William Cecil, Lord Burleigh'. Directed by Karl Heinz Stroux.

Presented in German for two performances only as part of a one week season by the Dusseldorf Playhouse Company (Dusseldorf Schauspielhaus).


Old Vic Theatre (Stephen Spender) 1960

Opened 11 October 1960, Closed 13 December 1960 (in repertory) at the Old Vic Theatre

Translated by Stephen Spender.

The cast featured Gwen Taylor as 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' and Valerie Taylor as 'Queen Elizabeth I' with Robert Harris as 'William Cecil, Lord Burleigh'. Directed by Philip Dale.


Greenwich Theatre (Robert David Macdonald) 1988

Previewed 12 May 1988, Opened 16 May 1988, Closed 25 June 1988

Translated by Robert David Macdonald.

The cast featured Fiona Shaw as 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' and Paola Dionisotti as 'Queen Elizabeth I' with Hugh Ross as 'William Cecil, Lord Burleigh'. Directed by Tim Albery with designs by Antony McDonald and lighting by Christopher Toulmin.


NT Lyttelton Theatre (Jeremy Sams) 1996

Previewed 15 March 1996, Opened 21 March 1996, Closed 3 August 1996 (in repertory) at the NT Lyttelton Theatre

Translated by Jeremy Sams and presented by the National Theatre.

The cast featuresd Isabelle Huppert as 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' and Anna Massey as 'Queen Elizabeth 1' with Paul Jesson as 'William Cecil, Lord Burleigh', Ben Miles as 'Mortimer', Tim Pigott-Smith as 'Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester', Patrick Godfrey 'Sir Amias Paulet' and Gillian Barge as 'Hanna Kennedy' along with Jean-Benoit Blanc, Osmund Bullock, Christopher Campbell, Naomi Capron, Jonathan Deverell, Sandra Duncan, Randal Herley, Ian Hogg, Colin Hurley, Collin Johnson, Will Keen, Seymour Matthews and James Nickerson.

Directed by Howard Davies with designs by William Dudley, lighting by David Hersey, music by Jason Carr and sound by Jonathan Suffolk.


Donmar Warehouse / Apollo Theatre (Peter Oswald) 2005

Previewed 14 July 2005, Opened 20 July 2005, Closed 3 September 2005 at the Donmar Warehouse
Previewed 7 October 2005, Opened 19 October 2005, Closed 14 January 2006 at the Apollo Theatre

The original cast at the Donmar Warehouse featured Janet McTeer as 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' and Harriet Walter as 'Queen Elizabeth I' with David Horovitch as 'William Cecil, Lord Burleigh', Rory Kinnear as 'Mortimer', Guy Henry as 'Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester', James Fleet as 'Sir Amias Paulet' and Barbara Jefford as 'Hanna Kennedy' along with Tam Dean Burn, David Burke, Stephen Fletcher and Rufus Wright.

The original West End cast at the Apollo Theatre featured Janet McTeer as 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' and Harriet Walter as 'Queen Elizabeth I' with David Horovitch as 'William Cecil, Lord Burleigh', Rory Kinnear as 'Mortimer', Guy Henry as 'Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester', Michael Simkins as 'Sir Amias Paulet' and June Watson as 'Hanna Kennedy' along with Tam Dean Burn, Stephen Fletcher, Paul Jesson and Rufus Wright.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd with designs by Anthony Ward, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Paul Arditti.

Harriet Walter's recent West End theatre credits include Moira Buffini's Dinner (Wyndham's Theatre 2003). Phyllida Lloyd's recent London theatre directing credits include the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward Theatre 1999).

"As a rule I would only volunteer to sit up straight and in the same position for two long hours and 45 long minutes (admittedly with an interval) if I thought I was going to be disembarking at the end of it in a hot country with nice beaches. As it turned out Peter Oswald's sharp and clear translation of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart was even more rewarding than that... The director Phyllida Lloyd has given all the men in Elizabeth I's court the freedom of modern suits in which to do their manipulating and politicking, while the queens, both the embattled ruling one, and the imprisoned one, are stuck, tightly bound in their stiff-boned corsets. It is an effective visual metaphor that works spectacularly well when the two queens meet. Schiller took liberties with historical truth - Elizabeth and Mary never did meet - but the idea of their meeting is a brilliant fiction here magnificently played out in a heavy downpour... Janet McTeer's Mary is beautiful, statuesque and sensual. The black slate floor is shiny and precarious from the rain, and shards of bright, exposing light point up both the momentousness of this event and the stark, bony, perfected sexlessness of Harriet Walter's Elizabeth... It all ends, inevitably, in an execution but, in the deft hands of Schiller, Oswald and Lloyd, Mary Stuart leaves you with the clear feeling that Elizabeth was the real loser. Possibly not such a fiction in the end." The Sunday Telegraph

"The director Phyllida Lloyd never strong-arms Mary Stuart into being 'relevant'. Instead, this play - written in 1800, performed here in a fluid, elegant new version by Peter Oswald - is allowed space to let the echoes chime through. No clunking references to 'coalitions', no ironic American accents, just the mechanics of power laid bare to dramatic effect... Watching the two queens glide across Anthony Ward's spare, atmospheric set is like watching two vast ships on a terrible collision course. Both female leads crackle with the kind of gun-powder charisma that sparks devotion and foments intrigue, their long skirts swishing across the stage with decisive intent... In this fine production, every lie, every deception, rings true." The Sunday Times

"Miss Walter is magnificent as the great English queen. She is erect and private, cruel, a cold shard of duty. And she is but one of the many powerful players in this fine version by Peter Oswald, directed by Phyllida Lloyd... 'The Stuart', as she is referred to repeatedly, is played with an almost swollen humanity by Janet McTeer. Busty, tall and blonde, this is Mary as a modern, almost metropolitan woman... One stylistic inconsistency is that the woman wear bustling, silken frocks while the men are attired in business suits. Yet this does not get in the eye's way. The acting so so damn good, the story so gripping. At almost three hours it is a long night, but an unforgettable one." The Daily Mail

"A play about the battle of wills between Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots may sound as dull as a history lesson on a drowsy summer's day. But Schiller's drama becomes a psychological thriller as riveting as any Hitchcock movie thanks to Peter Oswald's adaptation and two actresses who could make letters from the Revenue sound gripping. Having tried to claim the English throne in 1558, Mary was jailed - and 19 years later had her head lopped off. But what a spirited fight she put up, demonstrated in director Phyllida Lloyd's sizzling production. The alluring, statuesque Janet McTeer is Mary. Wily Elizabeth, played by Harriet Walter, is like a steel knuckle duster hidden in a velvet glove, and outwits her rival by exploiting the cowardice and self-interest of her male courtiers. Guy Henry is brilliant as the Earl of Leicester, playing both sides for his own ends before having to flee. And David Horovitch splendidly presents Lord Burleigh as an inflexible bureaucrat with a heart of concrete. In life, Elizabeth and Mary never met. Here - dressed in period costumes, while the mere men wear modern suits - they come face to face after a rain storm. It's a wonder steam doesn't rise from Ms McTeer as she rails against her rival. What a pair. What a regal theatrical event." The Sun

Mary Stuart in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 7 October 2005, opened on 19 October 2005 and closed on 14 January 2006 - a transfer from the Donmar Warehouse