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A DIFFERENT CHARACTER

Laura Marling, onetime ethereal voice of folk, is writing for the stage— and getting serious

@missbarton

ALL SET: Marling, photographed in November at the Almeida Theatre, London.
ANDREW TESTA/PANOS FOR NEWSWEEK

LAURA MARLING, one of Britain’s finest songwriters, is sitting in the window of the Almeida Theatre café in north London. Which in itself is a surprise: “I always felt theater was a bit above my head,” she says, her small, bright face looking somewhat amused. “I’ve sat through a lot of very boring plays in my time, and I thought theater can be a bit too…theater-y. It can just get a bit too far up its own theater bum.”

Marling, 26, is here to tell me how she came to be involved in a new production of Mary Stuart, Friedrich Schiller’s play from 1800 about the last days of Mary, Queen of Scots. The show has already gained attention for the conceit of having its lead actors, Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams, trade the roles of Stuart and her cousin, Elizabeth I, based on the nightly fiip of a coin. With the addition of Marling’s original score, it’s an even more attractive prospect.

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LE FRONT TRUMP: EUROPE COULD BE NEXT If the National Front’s Marine Le Pen wins the French presidential election in May, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council would be led by Trump, Le Pen, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Britain’s Theresa May, who is ushering the U.K. out of the EU (even though she campaigned, tepidly, for it to remain). With the possible exception of May, none seem thrilled about how the world has worked since the end of the Cold War.
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