It may well be the most stimulating theatre presentation of the year and it is just what the most prestigious of our arts festivals should be presenting. Co- produced by the National Theatres of Scotland and Great Britain and the Edinburgh Festival, The James Plays are a trilogy of new plays by Rona Munro about the first three Stuart kings of Scotland, James I, II and III. They occupied the Scottish throne for the greater part of the 15th century. This acclaimed British production – three plays, 11 hours in total – will appear only at the Adelaide Festival (26 Feb – 1 Mar). The plays, each dealing with the three kings in turn, can also be seen individually; they are titled: The Key Will Keep the Lock, Day of the Innocents and The True Mirror.
After the plays opened at the Edinburgh Festival in 2014 the national critics were enthusiastic: Dominic Cavendish in the Telegraph wrote ‘Rona Munro’s thrilling trilogy could be the finest history plays ever penned’. Note his use of the word ‘ever’; high praise indeed. The Independent critic said ‘The most elating thing you’ll see all year’. Not sure about ‘elating’ but we get the message.
The early Stuart kings are not well known to Australians; we mostly don’t tune in until Mary Queen of Scots in the next century. These plays may have had special resonance at the time of the Scottish Independence Referendum, nevertheless great writing, epic staging and thrilling acting are timeless; we’ll see in Adelaide.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10