WOLF HALL, BRING UP THE BODIES till 29 03

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES
Adapted from the novels by Hilary Mantel by Mike Pouton
RSC at the Swan Theatre, Stratford Upon Avon
Info www.rsc.org.uk
Both plays run 3h, with one interval
Run till 29 March

Review Alexander Ray Edser, 08 01 14

I have rarely felt 6 hours pass so quickly.
Hilary Mantel’s novels are both award winners; their creation of immediate and vigorous history told through a mass of significant and insignificant detail, of the story of great events related within domestic settings, of the intriguing rise and rise of Thomas Cromwell has gripped people’s imagination. A tall order, then, to adapt these for live performance.

But adapter Mike Poulton, director Jeremy Herrin and the rest of the team have made all the right decisions. The plays move fluidly along, there’s a full range of dynamics, and the stories have enough room to breathe so that we never feel too much is being squashed into too little time.

Mantel’s novels have an undramatic matter-of-factness about them, though the narrative is, of itself, highly charged. Poulton has struck exactly the right note for the dialogue he writes is, on the face of it, unremarkable – here we are in a world in which, in a way, bureaucracy rules. We witness neither executions nor torture – we experience the fear and effect of them. Christopher Oram’s sparse designs (a huge, rough hewn cross, fires burning in grates) both enable the fluidity and match the tone. The whole production is skilfully crafted.

Ben Miles’s Thomas Cromwell is remarkable. His portrayal is, for the most part, self-effacing; but at times an inner Cromwell bursts through. So we have an intriguingly multi-layered character – ambitious, passionate, faithful, lost, damaged, loving. Here is a man who knows the cost of everything but the value of everything too. Whether he is after vengeance, power or simply doing his job to the best of his ability, is a mystery to us. This is masterful playing.

The whole acting team is extremely strong and there is a powerful sense that the actors are enjoying telling this story to us. Particularly telling is the family relationship between Cromwell and Gregory, Rafe, Christophe – Daniel Fraser, Joshua James, Pierro Niel Mee. Nathaniel Parker’s Henry VIII is a powerful character in the play’s world but never eclipses Cromwell in the theatre one. Lydia Leonard creates an Anne Boleyn who never loses us on her journey from arch-bitch to pitiable victim and Lucy Briers gives us a lovely double of Katherine of Aragon and Jane Boleyn.

A word must also be said for the fine score by Stephen Warbeck, and lighting by Paule Constable and David Plater which frequently transforms the stage picture into Old Master paintings.

The question is – will the RSC adapt part III of the trilogy when it comes? Personally, I can’t wait. WOLF HALL
Joey Batey – Mark Smeaton
Nicholas Boulton – Duke of Suffolk
Lucy Briers – Katherine of Aragon/Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford
Leah Brotherhead – Jane Seymour/Princess Mary/Lady Worcester
Olivia Darnley – Mary Boleyn/Lizzie/Mary Shelton
Nicholas Day – Duke of Norfolk
Daniel Fraser – Gregory Cromwell
Benedict Hastings – Wolsey’s Servant/Monmouth
Madeleine Hyland – Lady in Waiting/Maid
Joshua James – Rafe Sadler
Paul Jesson – Cardinal Wolsey/Cardinal Wolsey’s ghost/Sir John Seymour/Kingston
Lydia Leonard – Anne Boleyn
Ben Miles – Thomas Cromwell
Pierro Niel Mee – Christophe/Francis Weston
Nathaniel Parker – King Henry VIII
Oscar Pearce – George Boleyn, Lord Rochford/Edward Seymour
Matthew Pidgeon – Stephen Gardiner/Eustache Chapuys
John Ramm – Thomas More/Harry Norris
Nicholas Shaw – Harry Percy/Brereton
Giles Taylor – Cranmer/Thomas Boleyn/Packington
Jay Taylor – Thomas Wyatt

Director – Jeremy Herrin

Designer – Christopher Oram

Lighting – Paule Constable

Music – Stephen Warbeck

Sound – Nick Powell

Movement – Sian Williams

BRING UP THE BODIES
Joey Batey – Mark Smeaton
Nicholas Boulton – Duke of Suffolk
Lucy Briers – Katherine of Aragon/Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford
Leah Brotherhead – Jane Seymour/Princess Mary/Lady Worcester
Olivia Darnley – Mary Boleyn/Lizzie/Mary Shelton
Nicholas Day – Duke of Norfolk
Daniel Fraser – Gregory Cromwell
Benedict Hastings – Wolsey’s Servant/Monmouth
Madeleine Hyland – Lady in Waiting/Maid
Joshua James – Rafe Sadler
Paul Jesson – Cardinal Wolsey/Cardinal Wolsey’s ghost/Sir John Seymour/Kingston
Lydia Leonard – Anne Boleyn
Ben Miles – Thomas Cromwell
Pierro Niel Mee – Christophe/Francis Weston
Nathaniel Parker – King Henry VIII
Oscar Pearce – George Boleyn, Lord Rochford/Edward Seymour
Matthew Pidgeon – Stephen Gardiner/Eustache Chapuys
John Ramm – Thomas More/Harry Norris
Nicholas Shaw – Harry Percy/Brereton
Giles Taylor – Cranmer/Thomas Boleyn/Packington
Jay Taylor – Thomas Wyatt

Director – Jeremy Herrin
Designer – Christopher Oram
Season Lighting – Paule Constable
Lighting – David Plater
Music – Stephen Warbeck
Sound – Nick Powell
Movement – Sian Williams

2014-01-09 17:17:55

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection