This stage adaptation of the Booker Prize nominated book by Colm Tóibín has Fiona Shaw as Mary sitting on stage in a glass case like a museum exhibit. The audience free to roam around the stage and take pictures and it prompts a sense of historical reality and significance to what is about to come. Mary’s monologue gives her view of “the one we all know about” or simply her son. It is a more detached and personal view of the situation, her son surrounding herself with misfits,her disapproval and cynicism, and exasperation in her helplessness with the fast evolving situation.
Shaw is outstanding especially in conveying her inner turmoil with her son’s achievement and his fate. It is a complex perspective from a mother, nothing more, nothing less. And despite the extraordinary context, there is a universality which applies to all mothers.
A side note on the ticket pricing at the Barbican. They charge £3 for a booking fee per transaction and on a reasonably priced £25 ticket, it is more than 10%. And together with a rather expensive £4, black and white programme, the “extras” comes at just under 30% of the ticket price which seems excessive. I hope Barbican can review their pricing.