The James Plays (I & II)
16th & 17th August (different times)
£15 – £35
Rona Munro’s The James Plays bring to life the period 1421 to 1488. Munro has not attempted to create a historically accurate account, rather she has created superbly entertaining works of fiction, using facts as the starting point. A co-production between the Nation Theatre of Scotland and the National Theatre of Great Britain, and directed by Laurie Sansom, The James Plays present the lives of the first 3 King James’ of Scotland. The characters and their relationships are easily accessible to the modern audience. This is brave, engaging, entertaining Theatre. Theatre at its best.
James I : Returning to Scotland, after 18 years in English custody, James McArdles’ slightly insecure James I faces the challenge of mastering his nobles and bringing them under the control of the Crown. James’ romantic side portrayed in his relationship with wife Joan Beaufort (Stephanie Hyam) is balanced with the ruthless strength he forges to command the respect of his country men. Munro’s script provides laughter, poetry and political skulduggery whilst capturing the brutality required of a ruler in the 15th Century.
James II : The first half of Day of the Innocents, dramatised through flashbacks of the young James II’s life, including the murder of his father, is challenging to engage with. A puppet portrays the young king in his dark, nightmarish, chaotic dreams. The power dynamics of the families who governed Scotland whilst James (Andrew Rothney) grew to maturity are captured excellently as the Livingstones, the Crightons and the Douglases vie for land and power. James’ relationship with the young Douglas (Mark Rowley) develops and shifts painfully from youthful friend to defiant earl, resulting in a showdown, where James asserts his rule ruthlessly.
Both Plays – 5 STARS
Reviewer : Nina Jones