I WENT to see James III: The True Mirror by Rona Munro in the expectation that the play would attempt an analysis of this Scottish king who, despite fierce opposition from his nobles, made many attempts to build links between Scotland and England and who seemed to prefer the idea of a meritocracy of able men as advisers rather than the aristocracy. However, there was no historical or political analysis evident.
Instead, the play reduced the challenging and intriguing possibilities of looking into James III’s reign to a sit-com. All the characters, including Queen Margaret, used foul language, and the second part of the play opened with a bath scene featuring ribald interactions between the ladies of the court and a young serving lad.
The end scene saw James IV removing all of his clothes and standing, naked, for some time while theatrically winding a cilice round his upper body. The king’s sex life was paraded as if it had any consequence, which it did not. Munro’s play is mis-named. It should be entitled something like, “What the cleaner saw when he cleaned James III’s windows”.
Glasgow Road Perth