The project was originally announced four years ago, when the idea was that Susanne Bier would direct. However, Bier has since moved on to other things: she brought John le Carré’s The Night Manager to the screen, turning it into a mega-hit for BBC TV. And there have been unconfirmed reports that she will direct the next James Bond film.
Mary, Queen Of Scots will mark Rourke’s film-making debut. She has been artistic director of the Donmar since early 2012. Before that, she ran the Bush theatre in West London, and she worked as an assistant director at the Donmar when Sam Mendes was running the Covent Garden-based venue.
Rourke’s predecessors at the Donmar — Mendes and Michael Grandage — have also gone on to film-directing, while continuing to work in the theatre.
“She has a very level head on her shoulders. She has an amazing
sense of humour and a good sense of humour about herself, which is
always helpful in our profession. She has a good
Judi Dench transforms herself from testy, sometimes wistful, adult back to cautious but excitable child while Ben Whishaw brings his blend of gawky intensity and affability to the role of Peter. He is particularly touching in the final moments, tears welling in his eyes. Peter and Alice’s real–life encounter back then in 1932 would almost certainly not have resulted in the spilling of souls that happens here.
But it is that which gives the play its strength and it is ultimately the tragedy of the true Peter and Alice that proves to be the most affecting part of the evening’s production.
“Deborah Findlay’s performance simply exudes engrained bitterness. It is obvious that her desperate character has been damaged by suffering. Penelope Wilton play’s her sister. A shell of her former self, she has been hardened by betrayal and abandonment. The fantastic first scene is a steely tussle between the two twin sisters, simmering with resentment and jealousy.”
(Deborah Findlay and Penelope Wilton in ‘John Gabriel Borkman’)