Struggles for national power have gone on for centuries. England’s Elizabeth I had such a major problem: Mary Stuart. The Queen of the Scots claimed Elizabeth’s throne and was considered by many people to be the legitimate sovereign, rather than her first cousin once-removed. Elizabeth wanted to have Mary permanently removed. She did so. 

Germany’s Friedrich Schiller saw intense drama in that story and wrote what he called “a romantic tragedy,” Mary Stuart, which now peoples the halls and corridors of Joslyn Castle, presented by Brigit Saint Brigit Theatre Company.

The play has “a fierce timelessness in its depiction of political power games and the roles played — then as now — by charisma, duplicity, self-editing and what has come to be known as spin,” Ben Brantley of  The New York Times  wrote reviewing the 2009, seven-Tony-nominated production. “It is also one of the most unsettling studies I know of the captivity in which heads of state are condemned to live.”

 “The play is about keeping a step ahead of one’s friends and adversaries,” said the Washington Post  in an “engrossing, imaginatively fictionalized account of the endgame for a titled woman with designs on another’s kingdom. Fatal attractions of all types sure do make for good theater. It’s juicy stuff.”

Probably the most famous scene depicts a fierce personal encounter between the queens. Actually that never happened. Schiller’s close friend Goethe applauded the fiction saying “It will be good to see those two whores alongside each other.”

German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright Schiller flourished in the 18th Century Among his other works, the play Don Carlos  is quite well known as is Wilhelm Tell which was the basis for Rossini’s opera.

This 2005 version of Maria Stuart  is by the sceptered isle’s Peter Oswald, who’s been a playwright in residence at Shakespeare’s Globe  in London He also wrote, with Hilary Collier, an adaptation of aforesaid Don Carlos  as well as of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, Racine’s Phaedra and other plays by Plautus, Sophocles and Lorca.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Shakespeare’s Henry IV remarked. The author knew the multiple meaning; he’d been in his mid- 20s when Mary lost both.   

Mary Stuart runs May 4 through May 25, Joslyn Castle, 3902 Davenport Street, Weds. May 10, 17, 24 : 7:30 p.m., Thurs May 4, 11, 18, 25 :7:30 p.m., Fri. May 12, 19 : 7:30 p.m., Sat. May 6: 7:30 p.m. Tickets $25.

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