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06 February 2012


The Heresy of Love
The Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Monday 6th February 2012

On walking into The Swan theatre, we are immediately transported to the warmer climes of Mexico with the warm lighting and smells of exotic spices, which helped our imaginations melt away the snow outside.

The action depicts the real story of Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz (Catherine McCormack), a remarkable 17th century woman of Mexico, or New Spain as it was then known.  The nun is firstly celebrated and later persecuted for her writing talents, often being commissioned to write plays and poems for the Mexican court, but being equally threatened and cautioned by her Archbishop that to do so is heretical.  

Throughout the play, it becomes clear that her brilliant mind and unrelenting inquisitiveness, coupled with her new Archbishop's zealous rigidity and extreme sexism is going to become her downfall.  At this, the time of the Spanish inquisition, it could hardly go any other way.

The instigator of her destruction, Archbishop Aguiar (Stephen Boxer), was played with self-flagellating menace and conviction, and his mouthpiece and connection to Sister Juana, Fray Antonio (Geoffrey Beever) backed him up with  believable loyalty as well as displaying the truth of his affection for the young nun.

The true villain of the piece however is the turncoat Bishop Santa Cruz (Raymond Coulthard), whose early unyielding support for Sister Juana is so easily forgotten when planning his retaliation to her fictional betrayal, which is so complete in its viciousness.

The play was triumphant, if a little over-long.  It succeeded to bring to life the striking story of this remarkable woman, for whose sad ending one couldn't help to feel overwhelmingly sad but mostly angry at the executors of her unjust persecution.

1 comment:

  1. Blimey! Sounds like heavy stuff. Never again shall I feel apprehensive about choosing something dark & cheerless!