by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe In rep to21 August 2010.
2pm 27, 29 May, 8, 19, 26 June, 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 30 July, 3, 6, 19 Aug.
7.30pm 26, 28 May, 7 14, 1821, 25, 29, 30 June, 5, 7, 9, 12, 31 July, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 18, 21 Aug.
Audio-described 26 June.
BSL Signed 19 June.
Runs 3hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 May.
Is all true – as the subtitle says? Well, up to a point…
This late, not-so-great Shakespeare collaboration (with rising young playwright John Fletcher) hasn’t the wide canvas or analysis of kingship that make the history plays covering late 14th to late 15th century England part of the nation’s dramatic consciousness.
No-one was going to write a play critical of the late Elizabeth I’s father in 1613. Elizabeth’s birth closes Henry VIII, with encomia of her future virgin glory that now seem servile flattery as well as unconvincing drama. But they must have seemed spot-on to anxious Jacobeans for whom the Elizabethan Age was mellowing into a golden haze, its inflation, plagues and plots airbrushed-out of the memory.
The writers can’t ignore that Henry annuls his first marriage to try for a son (they stop before he starts having wives beheaded). But they show him with sympathy for his first wife. When summoned for trial Kate Duchene’s Katherine is calmly sewing. Afterwards she returns to her work, now needled herself. If Duchene, a clear, intelligent performer, hadn’t been lumbered with a Spanish accent, the character might have made more of an impact.
As does Ian McNeice’s Cardinal Wolsey, another favourite who falls from favour but keeps his head. Lolloping about the stage, an assertive presence, Wolsey is for long sections the action’s dynamo. He leaves Dominic Rowan to present the good-guy king, first seen playing squash, the athletic young monarch around whom a busy palace revolves – the Globe stage has never seemed so richly-endowed or more busy with people going about their business, among them Amanda Lawrence’s Welsh servant comically annoyed at her low reward for bringing good news.
Rowan places Henry’s authority and temperament in a sympathetic light; a wise king rather than a tyrant calculatingly giving and removing support. His joyful leaping at news of a child subsides when he learns it’s a girl, one of several moments played on a stage extension. Another reveals a court functionary talking while plainly inept at a simple manual task.
The play doesn’t match Shakespeare’s great histories, but Mark Rosenblatt’s is as good a production as is likely to be seen for some time.
Sir Thomas Lovell/Cardinal Campeius/Porter: Michael Bertenshaw.
Lord Chamberlain/1st Citizen: Sam Cox.
Thomas Cromwell/Porter’s Man: John Cummins.
Abergavenny/Griffith: Ben Deery.
Patience/Lady-in-Waiting: Mary Doherty.
Lord Sandys/Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester: John Dougall.
Queen Katherine: Kate Duchêne.
Earl of Surrey: Will Featherstone.
Duke of Norfolk/Lord Caputius: Peter Hamilton Dyer.
Duke of Buckingham/Lord Chancellor: Anthony Howell.
2nd Citizen/Thomas Cranmer: Colin Hurley.
Fool/Virginia, Lady-in-Waiting: Amanda Lawrence.
Cardinal Wolsey: Ian McNeice.
Anne Boleyn: Miranda Raison.
Henry VIII: Dominic Rowan.
Duke of Suffolk: Dickon Tyrell.
Courtiers: Claire Bond, Chris Courtenay, Michael E Curran, Trevor Cuthbertson, Nicole Hartley, Holly Beth Morgan.
Director: Mark Rosenblatt.
Designer: Angela Davies.
Composer: Nigel Hess.
Musical Director: Philip Hopkins.
Choreographer: Siân Williams.
Puppet direction: Seonaid Goody, Kate Shearcroft.
Movement: Glynn MacDonald.
Voice/Dialect work: Jan Haydn Rowles.
Text work: Giles Block.
Assistant director: Jack McNamara.
Assistant text work: Melina Theocharidou.