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WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES at RSC

February 9, 2014

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES in the Swan Theatre at the RSC are just under six hours of gripping drama. The plays are Act I and Act II of the story of King Henry VIII’s Court with Anne Boleyn told through the life of Thomas Cromwell. I was left with a thirst for Acts III, IV, V and so on which is a good idea if Hilary Mantel writes the novels and Mike Poulton adapts them for the stage because good writing is the firm foundation of these productions. These plays feel like a Shakespeare history yet with the added advantage of being in a more contemporary English which makes more easy to digest.

Jeremy Herrin presents us with a concrete and metallic designed stripped stage populated by actors in sumptuous costumes in a seamless flow of scenes. The structure feels more like a movie than a play yet it works wonderfully. Every actor on this stage deserves an award for outstanding performances. I felt I really knew the characters. I already love Ben Miles and he gave such empathy to Thomas Cromwell. Lydia Leonard gave a great very believable performance as Anne Boleyn. My favourite performance was Nathanial Parker’s King Henry VIII where I had a real feeling for the transformation of both the man and the crown in his performance.

These plays will run again and again and again.

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