A modern classic about the bitter rivalry between Mary, Queen of Scots, and her cousin and fellow ruler, Elizabeth I of England – retold by Scotland’s most popular playwright.
‘Once upon a time, there were twa queens on the wan green island, and the wan green island was split inty twa kingdoms. But no equal kingdoms…’
Mary and Elizabeth are two women with much in common, but more that sets them apart.
Following the death of her husband, the Dauphin of France, the beautiful, and staunchly Catholic Mary Stuart has returned from France to rule Scotland, a country she neither knows nor understands. Ill-prepared to rule in her own right, Mary has failed to learn what her protestant cousin, Elizabeth Tudor, knows only too well – that a queen must rule with her head, not her heart.
All too soon the stage is set for a deadly endgame in which there can only be one winner and one queen on the one green island.
Liz Lochhead’s play Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off is presented in a distinctive cabaret style, with much of the dialogue in the ‘Braid Scots’ vernacular. It was first performed by the Communicado Theatre Company at the Lyceum Studio Theatre, Edinburgh, in August 1987.
This revised version was published alongside the revival by the National Theatre of Scotland, which toured in 2009. Also included is a new introduction by the author.
‘A triumph… the characterisations never slide over into caricature but are full-bodied, subtle, humorous and virile’
— Time Out
‘Twenty-two years on, it’s a text that still takes the breath away with the fearless theatricality of its cabaret style, and the sheer force of the glittering poetic links it forges between the fraught and unresolved politics of Scotland in the 16th century, and tensions over gender and religion that still haunt our society today’