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REVIEW: Glory on Earth (Linda McLean, RCS, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)

Updated: Apr 26

9 November 2023

Chandler Theatre, RCS, Glasgow

⭐⭐⭐⭐️⭐️


Linda McLean's Glory on Earth at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, RCS, November 2023. Photo credit: Jacob Martin Walls

Glory on Earth by Linda McLean gives the young Mary Stuart, aka Mary, Queen of Scots, a voice during a period when very little is documented from her perspective.


In 1561 Mary arrived back after 13 years in France, to a Scotland where her Catholic Church and its practices had just been outlawed. What happened during those first two years is almost entirely documented by the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, radical cleric, John Knox. And he was not exactly unbiased in his writings!


In 'Glory on Earth' we witness the historic meetings between the two as they battle over the church, the monarchy and the people of Scotland. But cleverly Mary, her entourage and her voice have been firmly reinserted back into her own story.


In what is the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's first live performance of the new academic year, one half of the final year BA Acting class perform their version of the 2017 play. Along with students from BA Production Arts & Design, and BA Production Technology Management, they have created something innovative, satisfying and very special.


The cast of Linda McLean's Glory on Earth at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, November 2023. Photo credit: Robbie McFadzean

The Chandler Studio Theatre at RCS has never looked the same twice. I could barely believe this was the same space that housed Faustus and The Angry Brigade last year. Three completely different configurations for three wildly different plays; it's incredible how well this space can be transformed.


For this production of 'Glory on Earth' the audience are seated at the north and south points of the compass, whilst Mary's throne and John Knox's pulpit rise above the east and west flanks respectively. In the centre, the arena for battle! A simple but beautiful floor space where the action takes place from end to end. The staging manages to be both intimate yet grand. It's an inspired design choice and works brilliantly. The direction ensures no actor has their back to the audience for any length of time, and the constant movement and well considered choreography are very effective. The set and costume design are stunning. Being seated so close to the actors I could really appreciate the fine detail on both.


The creative team have aced it on this show. The staging is perfect and adds so much interest to what could have been a flat 2D window on a tete-a-tete. The sound is impeccable, and the lighting subtle, yet pin point perfect. There was beautiful live music from Harpist Neil Wood, but the dialogue was always clear and John Knox's voice actually reverberated around the auditorium when he was preaching from his pulpit. It's very well done.


The cast of Linda McLean's Glory on Earth at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, November 2023. Photo credit: Robbie McFadzean

The actors are, as expected, excellent but that does not explain well enough just how exceptional this company is. Every year I am awed by the talent on RCS's stages, but here all five of the Mary's were so stunningly perfect in their roles I could scarcely believe what I was seeing.


Reece Montague's portrayal of John Knox was outstanding. I don't like to call out individual actors from these productions as the quality and talent of all the performers is world-class. But Montague is so charismatic, so mesmerising, I couldn't take my eyes off him. He gave an assured, devastatingly cruel and spine-tingling performance; I will be raving about this actor and this performance for years to come


This production of 'Glory on earth' by RCS is impeccable and easily one of the best plays I have seen this year. I think on paper this is probably a good play, but it is made great thanks to the wonderful presentation from this creative team and company of actors. Such a shame it was so short lived. Encore!


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


📸 Production photos: Robbie McFadzean and Jacob Martin Walls



The cast of Linda McLean's Glory on Earth at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, November 2023. Photo credit: Robbie McFadzean

 

Cast

Chloe Ragrag, Mhairi Watt, Jennifer Winn, Emma Coles, Rachel Dick, Reece Montague, Saul Davidson, Jack Robert Young, Benjamin Keachie.


Creative Team

Written by - Linda McLean

Directed by - Becky Hope-Palmer

Set and Costume Designer - Ilse Littlejohn

Lighting Designer - Benny Goodman

Production Manager - Jacqueline Howard

Stage Manager - Brad Hamilton

Sound Designer - Lana Kirk

Composer / Musician - Neil Wood


The cast of Linda McLean's Glory on Earth at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, November 2023. Photo credit: Jacob Martin Walls
 

🌟 REVIEW: Glory on Earth (Linda McLean, BA Acting 2024, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow) 🌟


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.


📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com

💗 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram


Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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