Theater & Performing Arts

Mary Stuart

When: Oct. 6-Nov. 7 2010

A little more than a year since the premiere of his hugely successful concept play Faust, Part 1, local theater director Mark Jackson has revised yet another canonical text. It's actually a remix of a remix. German playwright Friedrich von Schiller wrote Mary Stuart with the intent of absolving the much-maligned Queen of Scotts. Likewise, Jackson presents Stuart as a tragic heroine, but he also burdens the play with other sociological subtexts: gender-bending, political cronyism, chain-of-command, the death penalty, and, of course, national security issues. Stephanie Gularte is a bold choice for the title character: Doe-eyed, baleful, perpetually curled up in a fetal position. Beth Wilmurt and Peter Ruocco dazzle in their respective roles as an androgynous Queen Elizabeth and persnickety Lord Burleigh. Nina Ball's prison-inspired set pieces and David Graves' cold electronic soundtrack create the play's atmosphere. Produced by Shotgun Players, it's intimidatingly smart -- in a good way. Through November 14 at The Ashby Stage (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley). $17-$30.

Rachel Swan

Price: $10-$30

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