The Testament of Mary
Old Joint Stock Theatre
Putting the Virgin Mary on stage is always bound to provoke a certain element of interest amongst the audience, even in an age when the Christian church is in decline. This bare yet effective production of Colm Toibin’s 2011 monologue, shows us a believable Mary; a figure defined by her motherhood yet with a story of her own.
We find her months or perhaps years after the crucifixion, kept ‘safe’ in her own home by those who are busy building the myths and narratives of what will become the Christianity of today.
Jean Wilde plays Mary as a woman seared by grief and fuelled by anger. She describes the disciples as a bunch of misfits and talks in bitter disbelief at the idea that her son’s agonising death will somehow bring the dawn of a new world.
The strength of the performance is, unfortunately, undermined by a soundtrack more suitable to a television thriller than to this stark staging. Better, perhaps to have heightened the tension with live sounds created by the black-hooded guardians, who appear and disappear from the claustrophobic space, hinting at the existence of a new, changing world outside that Mary will never see again.