Friday, September 11, 2020

339. MARY STUART. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Philip Bosco, Nancy Marchand.

MARY STUART [Dramatic Revival] A: Friedrich Schiller; AD: Stephen Spender; D: Jules Irving; S: Douglas W. Schmidt; C: Malcolm McCormick; L: John Gleason; M: Stanley Silverman; P: Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center; T: Vivian Beaumont Theatre; 11/11/71-12/18/71 (44)

Nancy Marchand, Philip Bosco, Salome Jens.

One of a long line of flop classical revivals at Lincoln Center under its original artistic directors (one of whom was gone by this time), Mary Stuart was a heavy-handed version of Schiller’s late 18th-century, German history drama about the intense rivalry of Queen Elizabeth I (Nancy Marchand) and Mary of Scotland (Salome Jens). In it, the playwright famously invented a scene bringing the two monarchs together, a meeting that never really happened. The best that could be said of the beautifully and lavishly designed production, apart from its visual attributes, was that Jules Irving’s direction was “decent but old-fashioned,” as John Simon noted. For all his cavils, Clive Barnes called it “a brave and on the whole successful attempt.”

Aline MacMahon, Salome Jens.

Not many went as far as Dick Brukenfeld in damning it as “appalling,” though. Brukenfeld said that most of the actors “walk onto the stage like clothes horses and spout their lines with a third-rate theatrical pomposity.” The “dullish revival,” reported Stanley Kauffmann, was staged “with a selection of groupings and movements that are the commonplaces of costume revivals”

Sydney Walker, Philip Bosco, Stephen Elliott.

The cast included such sturdy New York actors as Aline MacMahon as Hannah Kennedy, Robert Symonds as Sir Amias Pauler, Robert Phalen as Sir Edward Mortimer, Stephen Elliott as Lord Burleigh, Andy Robinson as Sir William Davison, Sydney Walker as Talbot, Philip Bosco as Robert Dudley, and, among others, Joseph Maher as Sir Andrew Melvil.