TEN years after Bec Applebee first performed Oh Mary at Sandford Orcas, she was back again, courtesy of Artsreach, on a beautifully chilly night to rehears the story of her heroine, Mary Bryant.
Sentenced to death by hanging for stealing a lace-trimmed bonnet, reprieved as good breeding stock for the new penal colony in Botany Bay, escaped with her husband and children, re-captured after rowing to East Timor, brought back to Cornwall, Mary was eventually lionised by society, although she had lost everything and everyone she ever loved. And this isn’t just a moving, funny, energetic theatrical solo tour de force … it’s a true story.
Applebee, one of the original cast of the late lamented Kneehigh’s King of Prussia, is a noted physical theatre performer, writer, musician and singer. She brings all her talents together in this amazing performance, capturing the bravado, terror, determination, humour, bravery and misery of this extraordinary woman.
With minimal props she conjures the folly of her theft of the hat and beating of the wearer, wonderment at the size of the fleet of prison ships, seasickness on the voyage, romance of falling in love, excitement at the horticultural potential of her new “homeland”, terror at the brutality of her attackers, joy at discovering new animals and birds and fishes … a huge personality who survived almost unendurable hardships, encompassed in 70 minutes.
It’s no wonder that Oh Mary keeps its audiences enraptured, as it has ever since she began introducing the Cornish Woman from Botany Bay to the world anew.
With the easing of restrictions, Bec will be touring the show during the summer.
She has two more Artsreach dates, at Milborne St Andrew on Saturday 26th and Ryall Little Beerland on Sunday 27th June.