Fiona Shaw to Reprise Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary at London's Barbican Theatre

By Mark Shenton
October 29, 2013

Fiona Shaw will reprise her performance in Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary, which she premiered on Broadway earlier this year, at London's Barbican Theatre in May 2013. It will begin performances May 1 prior to an official opening May 7, for a run through May 25.



Adapted from Tóibín's 2013 Man Book Prize-shortlisted novel of the same name, this stage version was a 2013 Tony nominee for Best Play.

Shaw plays the Virgin Mary, struggling with the loss of her son and the events leading up to his death. According to press materials, the play "unfolds with the urgency of a news story framed by dreamlike sets, painterly lighting and evocative sound. Mary, more familiar to us through images than words, is given a powerful voice in this poignant meditation on a mother's loss."

It is directed by Deborah Warner, who is a Barbican Artistic Associate, and has worked regularly with Shaw, including a production of Medea that transferred to Broadway from Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 2002 for which Shaw was nominated for the 2003 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

In a press statement, Shaw commented, "It's a chance in a life time to play the Virgin Mary and not in a nativity play! This is a most secular piece where a mother is deserted by her son and she in turn deserts him. The playing of this universal mother-son story has in it the spirit not of religion, but of ordinary life - the loss of a child as he grows and leaves and the self-loathing of not being the mother she wanted to be. Mary's anger and despair are all new emotions rarely associated with the woman who was washed clean by church history. And of course it is fiction so the truths are of the imagination not of history. I am delighted to play this at the Barbican where London meets the world."

Warner added, "The Barbican stage feels a very natural home for The Testament of Mary and it will be wonderful to introduce this work and Fiona’s astonishing performance to the London audience. I relish the opportunity to revive work as it always represents, for me, a chance for further exploration."

The Testament of Mary was originally produced on Broadway by Scott Rudin and Stuart Thompson. Its U.K. premiere is produced by the Barbican.

Tickets will go on sale to Barbican Red and Orange members Oct. 30, with tickets on general sale from Nov. 6.

To book tickets and for more details, visit www.barbican.org.uk.