ANTHONY WARD FEATURED ON W.COM
MARY STUART: COSTUME DRAMA DRAMA
Once in a while, something nifty can come of reduced circumstances. Such is the case with the stunningly stripped-down new production of Mary Stuart at the Broadhurst Theater, which I saw right before it opened to rave reviews on Sunday. Faced with a budget that wouldn’t allow for full-on Elizabethan excess, British costume and set designer Anthony Ward opted to outfit only the play’s two queens in period dress. The guys-and there’s a veritable horde of them-merely wear business suits. In other words, there’s no Jonathan Rhys Meyers equivalent trotting around in gonzo Tudor finery. And though it’s a bit jarring at first, the juxtaposition of creaky versus modern totally works.
According to Ward, who was also responsible for the look of the original London production at the Donmar Warehouse, budget constraints even dictated the limited number of costume changes for female leads Janet McTeer (Mary Queen of Scots) and Harriet Walter (Elizabeth). In total, Elizabeth wears just three gowns, and Mary just two. What few dresses they do wear aren’t piled with jewels either. For Mary, who has been ruthlessly liberated from all earthly treasures and imprisoned for nearly 20 years when the play opens, bijoux simply aren’t an option. But even the all-powerful Elizabeth isn’t all rocked-out. Rather, for much of the first act, Ward lets a gown of Chinese brocade create the grandeur. “It’s like a gold medallion on a black duchesse satin,” he explains. “You get that notion of clusters of jewels, but in a rather simple way.”
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