Vault preview: Bloody Mary – Live!

Part of the Main are returning to the Vault Festival this year with a triple whammy of shows.

Their comedy-cabaret show, Bloody Mary: Live! about Mary Tudor (Queen Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon) is playing in week 1.

Olivia Munk, Part of the Main’s artistic director, spills the beans on this regal one-woman show.

Where: The Flair Ground @ The Forge, The Vaults

When: 24-29 Jan

Ticket link:

Promotional image for Bloody Mary: Live!

It’s lovely to see the Vault Festival return for the first time since 2020. What’s the best thing about being part of London’s largest Fringe festival?

We’re thrilled to be a part of VAULT Festival this year — two of Part of the Main’s three shows coming to the festival this year, Tinker and Bloody Mary Live! were scheduled for last year’s cancelled festival, and we’re so excited to finally bring them to London.

Our third show, All By Myself, was live-streamed from Applecart Arts in 2020 and performed live at Ed Fringe this past August, but this will be its live London debut.

The best part of being involved in Vault Festival is sharing our shows with audiences new and old, and to be able to see so many fellow artists’ shows.

Our Artist Passes will be our most valuable asset for 8 weeks! Plus, as much as we love the Fringe, it will be nice to do a show for a tidy week at a time and to spend more time inside than flyering in the rain. 

Bloody Mary Live! is on at the new venue, the Flair Ground. Can you tell us what to expect there?

The Flair Ground will feature many of Vault Festival’s ‘Lates’ performances, from comedy to theatre to cabaret. 

Bloody Mary: Live! is a blend of stand-up comedy and theatre, and it’s the perfect show to go to with friends.

There’s a bar in the venue and audiences will be able to enjoy the show as they would in a comedy club.

The show has lots of audience interaction, so it’s a very joyful communal experience that will leave audiences with a new perspective on what they learned in history class. 

I love the idea of Mary Tudor getting the chance to give her side of the story in a stand-up show. Although it isn’t a musical it might appeal to fans of SIX – would that be a fair assumption?

Funnily enough, writer and performer Olivia Miller originally thought about writing a musical about the wives of Henry VIII when she was tasked with creating a one-person show during her MFA in Acting at Brown.

Luckily she heard about SIX before she got too far! Yes, fans of SIX have reported loving the show — though, as Mary tells us quite early on in Bloody Mary: Live!– if you’re a fan of that musical, “buckle up, because I’m about to sh*t on your heroes.”

In a way it’s the alternative perspective to SIX — if you had grown up with a tyrannical father, one banished mom and five step-mothers, how might that affect your views on love, loss, and power?

Olivia Miller imagines how a teenaged Mary Tudor might have responded under this duress, and how it may have impacted her reign as queen.  

Portrait of Mary Tudor

What attracted you to this Queen in particular? She always seems to suffer from unsympathetic portrayals on stage and screen. Do you see her differently?

Olivia Miller and I were drawn to Mary in particular because of these portrayals. Elizabeth I, Mary’s younger half-sister, has long overshadowed Mary’s reign as the first queen of England. 

Mary is seen as bitter in comparison – but interestingly, while Elizabeth’s time as queen may have ushered in a golden age of arts and culture, Elizabeth burned more Catholics at the stake than Mary did Protestants.

As Olivia’s Mary puts it, “I’m bloody, and Elizabeth is ‘likeable.'” And it’s no surprise that Mary turned out ‘bloody’ — in a sense, Henry’s reign of terror against women is due to his upset at her having been born a girl rather than a boy.

Her mother was banished and died without her getting to say goodbye, Henry threatened to kill her if she didn’t convert to Anglicanism, and she was sent out of court to serve as a maid to a baby Elizabeth. I think that would turn anyone ‘bloody’ if they were given enough power and room for revenge.

The show also explores why we villainise women who use any means to achieve power yet excuse or even glorify men who use the same tactics– a conversation that could just as well apply today as it did to the Tudor era. 

What should audiences expect from Bloody Mary Live and her #queenager show? 

Audiences should expect a stand-up comedy set about absent fathers, arranged marriages, and burnings at the stake. It’s equal parts angsty teenager and heir apparent.

But Olivia Miller’s fiery performance and writing is not just for laughs – it’s poignant, and asks the audience to reflect on how we have perceived women throughout history without considering the trauma they have endured.

After watching the show, I’d like audiences to consider what they would do if they were in Mary’s black leather, pyramid-studded boots. If driven to revenge, as Mary was, wouldn’t you be bloody, too?