This show finished on Thursday 01 February 2024, and this page is being kept for archival purposes only.

Mary: A Gig Theatre Show

Thursday 1 Feb - 19:30 to 20:30


Thursday 01 February 2024


Bedlam Theatre




Rona Johnston


Bedfest 2024


Blending rich spoken word with haunting original music, Mary: A Gig Theatre Show retells the story of Mary Queen of Scots. Performed by a live band of actor-musicians, the show searingly questions the treatment and portrayal of women historically and today.

Writer/lead performer Rona Johnston and director Katie Slater began creating Mary in 2022, before developing it for Gateway Festival in November 2023, and now Bedfest! The 5 actor-musicians of Mary devised the band arrangements in rehearsal, so are also integral to the making of the show. All are Edinburgh-based emerging theatre makers with musical backgrounds. They are Hester Irving (Fiddle/Bass), Laura Coull (Drums/Bass), Alli von Hirschberg (Guitar), Izzie Atkinson (Singer) and Jodie Kirkwood (Singer).

Mary is produced by Megan Waugh and James Wood, designed by Phoebe Wiseman with lights by Isabel Read. We are delighted to welcome Giulia Pizziol (SM) and Mick Zijdel (sound design) for Bedfest.


Content Warnings

Reference to topics of a sensitive nature
Age guidance 10+

Cast and Crew


Lighting Designer Jack Read

Sound Designer Mick Zijdel

Bedfest 2024 Review: Mary: A Gig Theatre Show -

Saturday 03 February - By Livvie Wharmby for The Student

“Mary: A Gig Theatre Show” unfolds as a captivating journey through the life of Mary, a tale expertly woven by six talented women on stage. Adorned in subtle tartan, armed with an array of instruments, including guitars, percussion, and a fiddle, the performers embark on a musical odyssey that spans fifty mesmerizing minutes.

As the show progresses, the audience is transported through Mary’s tumultuous life, exploring her controversies, love, and the tragic path that leads to her imprisonment and eventual demise. The ensemble, featuring Rona Johnson (Lead singer/Guitar) Hester Irving (Fiddle/Bass), Laura Coull (Drums/Bass), Alli von Hirschberg (Guitar), Izzie Atkinson (Singer), and Jodie Kirkwood (Singer), seamlessly embodies a dynamic synergy.

Whether portraying Mary’s loyal ladies-in-waiting, all humorously named Mary, highlighting the significance of female friendship in a patriarchal era, or crafting emotionally stirring music, the performers showcase a remarkable ease and self-assurance. Their stage presence blurs the line between performance and invitation, encouraging the audience to actively participate by singing, clapping, or dancing along.

The comedic elements, such as the hilarious introduction of Lord Darnley, punctuate the narrative with delightful humour. The atmosphere is skilfully enhanced by Isabel Read’s lighting design and Mick Zijdel’s sound design, adding depth to the immersive experience. Rona Johnson’s portrayal of Mary is exceptional, guiding the audience through the emotionally distressing content with a thoroughly humanized depiction of the doomed queen.

Beyond the musical journey, “Mary: A Gig Theatre Show” delivers a profound message about the transformative power of music and the enduring importance of female solidarity in the face of historical and contemporary challenges, especially when looking at the Elizabeth and Mary ‘rivalry’ despite the two women never actually meeting or speaking. The powerful imagery of beginning and ending with a line of women leaves a lasting impression, symbolizing the strength derived from unity.

The enthusiastic standing ovation at the conclusion speaks to the remarkable achievement of director Katie Slater and lead performer/writer Rona Johnson, making it a performance to be immensely proud of.

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