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Theatre Review: Mary Rose

Joy Watters reviews a 'mysterious and troubling piece'.

Written in 1919, JM Barrie’s Mary Rose was created in the shadow of the carnage of the Great War and the deadly flu pandemic. It is a strange and complex piece which weaves together a ghost story and the pain of love and loss.

Director Richard Baron’s production overcomes the difficulties of some of the writing to create the sad and mysterious tale of a girl who vanishes and never grows up.

It is a work that reveals so much about Barrie himself—even his stage directions are telling, and he becomes one of the characters. Alan Steele’s sure-footed performance as the writer sets the scene and provides a firm framework to the complicated chronology and changing moods of the play.

The story begins before war when as a child Mary Rose vanishes on a Hebridean island for 20 days, reappearing unchanged with no recollection. Visiting the island again as a young wife and mother, she vanishes for 25 years, returning no older while all her loved ones have aged. Ian Marr and Irene Allan as Mary Rose’s parents, the Morlands, bring a sense of the Victorian era in their decision to keep the matter secret, although Mrs Morland believes her daughter has been frozen in time.

Atmosphere is key and Neil Warmington’s set lit by Wayne Dowdeswell with Jon Beales’ music all combine to great effect in this mysterious and troubling piece.

Runs in repertoire until October 11.

Tags: theatre

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