Deborah Warner/Fiona Shaw
The Testament of Mary
By Colm Tóibín
Barbican Theatre, Barbican Centre, London, EC2Y 8DS

Thursday 1 – Sunday 25 May 2014
Press night: Wednesday 7 May 2014, 7.45pm 

The Barbican brings The Testament of Mary to London for its only UK performances in May 2014 following its 2013 run on Broadway which achieved three Tony Award nominations. Fiona Shaw and Deborah Warner, one of the most richly creative partnerships in theatrical history, collaborate to create this powerful, subversive and exquisitely emotional work which mesmerised audiences and critics alike. 

Fiona Shaw delivers a theatrical tour de force with her bold and affecting portrayal of the Virgin Mary struggling with the loss of her son and the events leading up to his death. Directed by Barbican Artistic Associate Deborah Warner, The Testament of Mary unfolds with the urgency of a news story framed by dreamlike sets, painterly lighting and evocative sound. Mary, more familiar to us through images than words, is given a powerful voice in this poignant meditation on a mother's loss.

The Testament of Mary is adapted from the 2013 Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel by Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín said: “I have admired the work of Fiona Shaw and Deborah Warner for many years. Working with them has been exciting and inspiring, and I have learned a great deal. I am delighted that their production of The Testament of Mary is coming to the Barbican.” 

Fiona Shaw said “It's a chance in a life time to play the Virgin Mary and not in a nativity play! This is a most secular piece where a mother is deserted by her son and she in turn deserts him. The playing of this universal mother-son story has in it the spirit not of religion, but of ordinary life - the loss of a child as he grows and leaves and the self-loathing of not being the mother she wanted to be. Mary's anger and despair are all new emotions rarely associated with the woman who was washed clean by church history. And of course it is fiction so the truths are of the imagination not of history. I am delighted to play this at the Barbican where London meets the world.” 

Deborah Warner said “The Barbican stage feels a very natural home for The Testament of Mary and it will be wonderful to introduce this work and Fiona’s astonishing performance to the London audience. I relish the opportunity to revive work as it always represents, for me, a chance for further exploration.”

Internationally renowned for her versatile and commanding stage performances, Fiona Shaw is an award-winning actress as well as a director of both theatre and opera. Deborah Warner is one of the most prolific and highly regarded British directors working in theatre and opera today. It is 25 years since the inception of their collaborative partnership and they have worked together on many seminal productions in both London and around the world including Electra, The Good Person of Szechwan, Hedda Gabler which won an Olivier Award for Direction and Production, Richard II with Fiona Shaw in the title role, Happy Days and Mother Courage and her Children. They received Tony Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Director for Medea (Abbey Theatre, Dublin/Queens Theatre, London/US tour and Broadway) and their production of TS Eliot's The Wasteland toured the world. 

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. With The Testament of Mary Tóibín returns to the subject of mothers and sons which he explored to great acclaim in his 2006 short story collection, Mothers and Sons. He is the author of seven novels, including The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, both of which were short-listed for the Booker Prize, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel of the Year Award. His other books include two collections of critical essays, All a Novelist Needs: Essays on Henry James and New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers & Their Families plus a further collection of short stories, The Empty Family. He is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. The stage production of The Testament of Mary was nominated for three Tony Awards and the novel was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.


Press information
For further information, images or to arrange interviews contact Bridget Thornborrow, Media Relations Consultant on 07802 166594 or

Public information
Box office: 0845 120 7511

Listings information
The Testament of Mary
Directed by Deborah Warner
Written by Colm Tóibín
Performed by Fiona Shaw
Set design by Tom Pye
Costumes by Ann Roth
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton
Music and Sound Design by Mel Mercier
UK premiere produced by the Barbican
Originally produced on Broadway by Scott Rudin and Stuart Thompson
Thursday 1 – Sunday 25 May 2014
3pm only on 4, 11, 18 & 25 May
No performances on 5, 12 & 19 May
1 hour 20 mins/no interval
Age guidance 14+ (contains nudity)
£16-35 (£2 discount on top two ticket prices for preview performances 1 – 6 May)
Membership, under-16, student, school, access and group discounts apply
Press night: Wed 7 May 2014, 7.45pm
Post-show talk with Deborah Warner & Fiona Shaw, facilitated by Anne Robinson: Sat 3 May (free to same day ticket holders)
Post-show talk with Colm Toibin, facilitated by Sameer Rahim: Thu 8 May (free to same day ticket holders)
Post-show talk with Deborah Warner & Fiona Shaw, facilitated by Rupert Christiansen: Wed 21 May (free to same day ticket holders)
Audio-described performance: Wed 21 May 2014, 7.45pm
Captioned performance: Thu 22 May 2014, 7.45pm

Weekend Lab: Deborah Warner
Barbican Centre
Sat 17 May 2-5pm
Sun 18 May 11-2pm
Tickets: £40 (includes access to both days of Lab + Sat evening performance of The Testament of Mary)

A unique opportunity to hear from award winning director and Barbican associate Deborah Warner. Over two half day sessions, Warner will discuss her work and career in theatre and opera, reflecting on 25 years with her long-term collaborator, Fiona Shaw. Participants will also have the opportunity for a question and answer session with Warner about her latest production, The Testament of Mary, which they will see in the Barbican Theatre on the Saturday evening. Weekend Lab is suitable for theatre directors – from students in higher education and training to emerging/semi-professional. Ages 18 +
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About the Barbican
A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over 1.5 million people pass through the Barbican’s doors annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, the Pit, Cinemas One, Two and Three, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre.

The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, and Associate Producer Serious. Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue Entertainment, Cheek by Jowl and Michael Clark Company. International Associates are Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig and Jazz at Lincoln Center

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The Testament of Mary © Brigitte Lacombe
Press Enquiries:
For further information, images or to arrange interviews contact Bridget Thornborrow, Media Relations Consultant on 07802 166594 or bridget.thornborrow@