House of Mirth
The whole point of history night at the pub is that you aren’t yourself. Ghandi, Cilla Black and John Lennon are all regulars, sometimes Elvis joins them too. It keeps the pub busy, it keeps the pub open and leads to a meeting with a young Scottish actress, new to London and needing a job.
When Barry and Liz meet Marie, she’s just been mugged, alone in a strange city and being looked after by a stranger dressed as John Lennon. They need the help and she needs the work so she joins the team behind the bar in exchange for board and lodgings.
Life is normal for all involved until Mary is persuaded to take part in history night. With the accent and similar name, it’s an obvious choice: Mary Queen of Scots. While everyone else is busy concentrating on being someone else Mary has accidentally found a key to herself and one she’s keen to unlock.
Sarah MacGillivray skilfully switches between characters, male and female, with a variety of accents and well-observed mannerisms. It’s a demanding script but she takes it in her stride, drawing the audience in and holding their attention with style.
This is a lively and engaging script, the descriptions of other characters vivid and the two leading ladies distinct. However, with so much exposition, the last 15 minutes and the build-up to the violent conclusion seem rushed in comparison with the rest of plot.
MacGillivray’s performance makes the piece, however, her two heroines well-drawn and equally regal in their own way.