25 February 2023
4.0 out of 5.0 stars
It seems to be the year for reclaiming Bloody Mary’s legacy. After having seen Bloody Mary: Live!, a somewhat SIX-inspired stand-up show, the second show on the subject at the Vaults is Burn.
Now, this one takes a very different approach, though it does feed into the same idea of looking at Queen Mary’s life and challenges and re-examining her legacy as a brutal, failed monarch to find the human story behind the legends.
In Burn, we meet Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and big advocate for the Church of England. When catholic Mary ascended to the throne, she had him put on trial for treason and heresy. After two years of incarceration, Mary now visits him one last time before he is to be sentenced to death by burning.
The two characters are very well developed, settling into an intense conversation over a game of chess. While Cranmer tries to push his recantations and apologies onto the Queen, she refuses to accept them and instead discusses all the details of how he negatively affected her life from earliest childhood on. She blames Cranmer for her father’s madness and his break from the catholic church, something that affected her and her mother greatly.
The show is incredibly well crafted, delving into the struggles of young Mary and her turbulent life under her father’s precarious decisions. It details how she was raised to be a tool for power with no power herself, and how her reign was tainted by the decisions of her predecessors.
A wonderful re-telling of a life consumed into legend, and rarely considered in a more balanced view.