Creators: House of Mirth
Reviewer: Simon Topping
Liz, the Landlady of the Prince Arthur, is hosting their regular theme night. There are two rules to the evening, the first being that the person you choose must be dead and secondly you have to be dressed up to get in. Elsewhere in London, a young Scottish woman (Marie) steps off a train, determined to turn her dream of becoming a successful actor into reality. These are the starting scenes of the wonderfully mesmerising and darkly comic one-woman show Marie.
Soon in the play, Marie and Liz’s stories converge when, after a series of unfortunate events, the young aspiring thespian ends up in Liz’s bar and is given a job and board to help her back on her feet. Liz recounts; “Give her a job, says Nelson Mandela. Well, he’s a hard man to argue with! So…”
We see Marie struggle as an out of work actor who quickly has to wise up after a hard introduction to life in the capital. Liz, an embattled barkeep, has comprised her life by staying on to run the bar with her husband Barry; a life she thought they would only be in for six months but ended up running for thirty years.
This wonderful piece, created by Sarah MacGillvary and director Phil Bartlett, has the audience gripped from the beginning. As the story unfolds we quickly become invested in the relationship between the two women and need to know more. Most of this is down to MacGillvary’s highly accomplished performance; she is superb and switches in and out of character seamlessly, proving a very charismatic actor to watch.
The story too is an original premise. The idea of a tribute night where ‘Steve Jobs’ comes to present his new iPhone as entertainment for the pub or ‘Emmeline Pankhurst’ does suffragist rap battles is equal part funny, engaging and appealing.
When Barry suggests Marie performs as Mary Queen of Scots the audience are taken down an unexpected path firstly of joyful success and then obsession, paranoia and prideful downfall.
Maire was a joy to watch from start to finish, with a genuinely deliciously evil surprise ending the audience did not see coming. MacGillvary is a very talented performer, someone to watch out for in the future and deserves to be known for her deeds throughout the length and breadth of the Queendom.
Reviewed on 12th May