It started with a pre show talk with the Director and climaxed with Henry VIII’s indecision – that was my yesterday.
I wish I could state that this was spontaneous or just another day in the exceedingly joyful life of a middle-aged catfish however that would be untrue, for what occurred less than 24 hours ago, was planned, purchased and eagerly anticipated for eleven months.
What I didn’t plan for though was having a super smiley Hilary Mantel sit just to my left, two rows back. Mastercard couldn’t have even managed that one. Yes – it took immense inner strength not to pounce and gush at her – instead I contented myself with the occasional turn of head (gee, she’s still there) and took to actor spotting and sucking in the excitement vibe pre-performance.
Back to the Director for a moment though – Jeremy Herrin is one to keep an eye on. For not only in the flesh is he an interesting, amusing, attractive (did I say that) and very personable fellow, but also in terms of his vision and ability to direct – gifted. Put simply, he has managed to bring to the stage two Booker prize winning novels, superbly produced (OK, I only saw one – however luckily am seeing the next in 13 days), ‘made them accessible’ (my son’s words, not mine) and at the same time, happened to make television watching less appealing.
To the show: Attempting a little prior preparation and planning preceding our day out – yes I said attempting – I’d only managed to read 111 pages of Wolf Hall, so though I’m happily currently enjoying it, I had to depend on the actors, crew and musicians to do their bit. And YES they did
The bare set works, the casting is spot-on and the costumes are exquisite. Did I say the costumes are exquisite? The fabrics, the pleats, the jewels, the shoes, the furs, the doublets, the hats, the hosiery – the RSC wardrobe department have delivered the most divine clothing eye candy in Tudor play history.
Ohh…you wish to know what happens. Well, Thomas Cromwell (played by Ben Miles) is the chap you follow throughout the drama. He’s pretty much everyone’s go to man, the one you head to if you have a couple of issues that need sorting. Like when Cardinal Wolsey needs some assistance with the Monks up North; or when Henry VIII requires a little assistance with divorcing his first wife and betrothing his next. Thomas Cromwell will fix it – for you, you and you.
The play covers seven years of Henry VIII’s reign – approx. twenty years into his marriage to Catherine of Aragon – a period that most of us would be aware of; perhaps enjoyed learning about; and a time of colossal change in terms of the Church and its authority within this country. And it is the latter that comes across so incredibly well. I guess I’d never really questioned that by taking power away from the Church in Rome and handing greater powers to the King could be risky, however this plays demonstrates it supremely. It also encouraged me to draw some interesting comparisons between Anne Boleyn and Veruca Salt, where I feel that Miss Salt comes out the sweeter.
Golly, I forgot to mention the dancing. The performance is sprinkled with a few perfectly incorporated dances which are further enhanced by the thrust stage. The flirtation between key characters is delicious to spy.
Try and get a ticket – it’s on until 29 March 2014