New life in old struggle

By Ian Hughes 09/02 Updated: 09/02 15:17

Buy photos » Catherine McCormack as Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Photo by Robert Day/RSC.

The Heresy of Love

RSC Swan Theatre

THE STRUGGLE between the religious and the secular is an age old story.

It is the main focus of Helen Edmundson's play, which takes what is known of the life of 17th century Mexican nun come national literary hero Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, and runs with it.

Nancy Meckler is in the director's chair having previously directed Sor Juna's play House Of Desires - which provided the main inspiration for The Heresy of Love - at the Swan during the RSC's Spanish Golden Age season in 2004.

The result is for the most part absorbing, thanks in no small part to Catherine McCormack's gripping performance in the title role. She certainly goes through the mill as her life crumbles around her, from confident, educated and devout woman, to a broken shell.

McCormack is ably supported by Stephen Boxer as her chief persecutor Archbishop Aguiar Y Seijas, Geoffrey Beevers as her ever-faithful supporter Father Antonio, and Dona Croll as her say it as it is servant Juanita providing the humour.

The face of Christ provides the backdrop to a sparse set with the semi-circle prison-like barred wall of the convent wheeled round and back at regular intervals, while Ilona Sekacz provides some fitting heavenly music.

While slightly too long, this production does ample justice to the story of a remarkable woman.

The Heresy of Love runs until March 9. For tickets visit www.rsc.org.uk

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