• Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Bedfest 2024 Review: Mary: A Gig Theatre Show

ByLivvie Wharmby

Feb 3, 2024
theatre poster

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mary: A Gig Theatre Show” unfolds as a captivating journey through the life of Mary, a tale expertly woven by six talented women on stage. Adorned in subtle tartan, armed with an array of instruments, including guitars, percussion, and a fiddle, the performers embark on a musical odyssey that spans fifty mesmerizing minutes. 

As the show progresses, the audience is transported through Mary’s tumultuous life, exploring her controversies, love, and the tragic path that leads to her imprisonment and eventual demise. The ensemble, featuring Rona Johnson (Lead singer/Guitar) Hester Irving (Fiddle/Bass), Laura Coull (Drums/Bass), Alli von Hirschberg (Guitar), Izzie Atkinson (Singer), and Jodie Kirkwood (Singer), seamlessly embodies a dynamic synergy. 

Whether portraying Mary’s loyal ladies-in-waiting, all humorously named Mary, highlighting the significance of female friendship in a patriarchal era, or crafting emotionally stirring music, the performers showcase a remarkable ease and self-assurance. Their stage presence blurs the line between performance and invitation, encouraging the audience to actively participate by singing, clapping, or dancing along. 

The comedic elements, such as the hilarious introduction of Lord Darnley, punctuate the narrative with delightful humour. The atmosphere is skilfully enhanced by Isabel Read’s lighting design and Mick Zijdel’s sound design, adding depth to the immersive experience. Rona Johnson’s portrayal of Mary is exceptional, guiding the audience through the emotionally distressing content with a thoroughly humanized depiction of the doomed queen. 

Beyond the musical journey, “Mary: A Gig Theatre Show” delivers a profound message about the transformative power of music and the enduring importance of female solidarity in the face of historical and contemporary challenges, especially when looking at the Elizabeth and Mary ‘rivalry’ despite the two women never actually meeting or speaking. The powerful imagery of beginning and ending with a line of women leaves a lasting impression, symbolizing the strength derived from unity.

The enthusiastic standing ovation at the conclusion speaks to the remarkable achievement of director Katie Slater and lead performer/writer Rona Johnson, making it a performance to be immensely proud of.

Read more: Bedfest 2024 Spotlight: ‘Mary: A Gig Theatre Show’

Image provided by Bedlam Theatre Press Release