lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
[personal profile] lareinenoire
So, quite by accident yesterday evening, I ended up catching one of the preview performances of Henry VIII at the Folger. It was a production I'd wanted to see, but hadn't quite figured out when I'd manage it. Through a nice series of coincidences, I was spending yesterday afternoon in the Folger and after finishing dinner, realised I had enough time to get back for the evening performance. So, there we go.

Short version: SEE IT IF YOU CAN. IT IS GREAT.

I did not do a review of the Shakespeare Theatre's Richard II from earlier this year because I knew it would be nothing but bile and rage. Their All's Well that Ends Well, which I saw a few weeks ago, had a wonderful Helena, an awful Countess, and everyone else in between, and in the end was only so-so. Which is why I was so happy to find as fantastic a production as I found at the Folger last night.

First of all, the sets are amazing. They're made enitrely out of wrought-iron and simultaneously give the impression of luxury and imprisonment. The centrepiece is a circular balcony above the mainstage that looks almost like a crown and that they used incredibly well throughout the production.

Henry VIII is such a strange play. Anyone who's read it will agree with me, I'm sure. It really is an ensemble piece (like The Merchant of Venice ought to be, in my opinion), with enough disparate plotlines that it can feel a bit disjointed on the page. It doesn't really have a climactic event either; you get nods to most of the major events from 1520 to 1533, and it ends with a panegyric to Elizabeth I. It's also a piece of metatheatrical oddity, constantly reflecting back on itself and the events it's relating. I would argue that most of Shakespeare's history plays are doing this to a lesser or greater extent, but the Folger production took that aspect of the play and made it a major thematic and visual point.

First, they gave the audience a viewpoint character in Will Somers, Henry's fool (Louis Butelli), who opened the play with the Prologue while doing a one-man dumbshow with puppets representing Henry and Katherine (the puppets became a recurring motif). He went on to play a whole selection of minor roles, changing onstage into wigs, armour, a Cardinal's robe (Campeius), and even a dress (the old lady, Anne's gentlewoman), and as a casting choice, it worked brilliantly, holding the play together in a really fun way.

Ian Merrill Peakes did a great job bringing out Henry's capriciousness, but I was surprised (having not reread the play recently) at how small a part he is, considering he's the title character. He's got the one giant speech in the scene at Blackfriars, but aside from that, he comes across as very easily manipulated, or so it seemed to me. Naomi Jacobson was the one good thing in STC's Richard II (she played the Duchess of York in the ONE SCENE in that entire production that didn't suck) and she did a wonderful job as Katherine of Aragon. They did cut Katherine's dream, which was a bit sad because it's such a bizarre, interesting scene, but the entire production had a dreamlike quality to it, so I suppose it made sense to cut a scene that might have belaboured the point.

I've never been sure what to make of Anne Boleyn in this play. She's a complete nonentity (which is exactly what happens in the chronicles, particularly Hall's), and specifically labelled an ardent Protestant (thank you, John Foxe!). Karen Peakes did a decent enough job with an extremely underwritten role and did have the advantage of looking a lot like this portrait of Anne. Most striking, though, was the brief coronation scene where she bore a truly eerie resemblance to the Elizabeth I Coronation Portrait. I don't know if it was intentional, but it worked very well.

A lot of the great aspects of this production were nonverbal. The Somers character linked all the scenes visually as he weaved in and out of the action. There was even a gorgeous echo of the RSC Histories (well, it felt like that to me) in the staging of Wolsey's downfall as a shower of letters falling over him as Norfolk and Suffolk circled him, listing his crimes against Henry. But what made the ending a complete gut-punch was replacing Katherine's lady-in-waiting with Princess Mary (this required a few tweaks of some of the lines, but they did make it clear she was Mary), and having her stnading in the background when Henry says:

O lord Archbishop,
Thou hast made me now a man. Never before
This happy child did I get anything.

Having her standing there and saying nothing for most of the play really brought home Mary's absence in the text. It also makes me want to write about the play and Invisible Wimminz. I will have to mention that, perhaps, when I talk about Anne's weird absence in other sources.

Also, the music was gorgeous. The actress playing Mary had this wonderful, crystalline soprano that they used to full effect in between scenes, and they interspersed actual period pieces (including 'Pastime With Good Company' and what I'm about 90% sure was Tallis) alongside the incidental score.

To conclude, a striking production that uses visual and thematic cues to hold a disjointed play together. I definitely recommend it. Running through November 20.

Oh, and the Henry VIII exhibit in the Library is also really good. I drooled over lots of books, including a 1548 edition of Le miroir de l'âme pêcheresse as translated by Elizabeth I. It's TINY. And ADORABLE.

Also, I sniggered every time I saw something I'd quoted in my dissertation. That made for a lot of sniggering. They sadly did not have a copy of Hall out, though they did have a Holinshed, and a facsimile of the 1550 frontispiece to Hall, with its miraculous all-male family tree (except for Elizabeth of York, Margaret Beaufort, and 'Eleanor, doughter to the Earl of March', who I am fairly certain was actually named Anne; bad Grafton!). So, well worth having a look if you're around.

Date: 2010-10-16 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] cheshyre
Haven't read past your short version to avoid spoilers, but I've already got tickets, and can't wait. [We're coming down to DC for a little over 24 hours, for John Stewart's rally

After H8, the only plays by WS I haven't seen will be Henry 6 (all 3 parts), Troilus & Cressida, 2 Noble Kinsmen, and 2 Gents from Verona...

Date: 2010-10-16 05:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oooh, I have seen all three Henry VIs, but haven't seen a lot of the others.

Date: 2010-10-19 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not sure what the prices on the tickets are, but this sounds like an extraordinary extra credit opportunity for your students...


Date: 2011-01-28 10:08 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Онлайн порно (


Date: 2011-06-16 05:20 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
From: (Anonymous)
How to make a intro for a video?Google Voice as a fake number?Can I change the name used 2 form Yahooaddress 4 my corporation? My BizBank account are in a different name!?Error Message: USB Device Not Recognized?
help calling a function? (;u=16472) refluks zioła How do swirls show unity in a painting?(principles of design)?Hi, how do I repair the conflict between a few letters on my keyboard and the sound control on my laptop?Must click programs in Taskbar before I can CONTINUE using them/ switch back to them.?What is a personal email scanner?These fonts from, where can they be used exactly?How can I log out facebook for mytouch?Lost thumbnails for imported pictures/videos in windows movie maker? please help??? :)? choroba wrzodowa żołądka Choroba refluksowa przełyku ( przyczyny zgagi Text book Starting out with visual basic 2010 or 2008?How to instantly see changes when typing in LateX?How do I make a new PDF in apple iBooks on my iPhone?What is best corse in india?
Problems with page numbers - MS Word 2007?what would be an alternative (cheap) for RN-42 bluetooth module?Is it possible to deactivate ones opera community account?!....if so how?!...? [url=]Refluks[/url] how can i see flash video in TOR BROWSER ?Hdpvr question and reccomendations?Updates and programs keep trying to install to an external hard drive and not the main HD?

Can anybody give me the 2-3 tree source code?

Date: 2011-07-29 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Youtubers at NATPE 2011?Will a GTX 580 work in a DX58SO motherboard given 600W power supply?Is it possible to add pins/favourite places to google street view?My built in microphone wont work?
i need a old version of picasa? (;u=5175) dieta na refluks How to password homegroup folders?by my name it always says i have programs running?Zbrush - how to change brush mode from symmetric sculpturing to single side?i set my western digital my book studio to time machine for my imac, will reformatting it reset the device?I Cannot Download DiscJoggler?windows live hotmail virus?Accessing a server with a password instead of a pkk file? refluks żołądkowo przełykowy dieta Refluks przełykowy ( reflux leczenie how to put microsoft sam on phone?I am trying to use alcohol 52% virtual drive with an iso file?Should I upgrade my hardware for my computer?Can you e-mail a page to Hotmail using Google Chrome?[/url] [url=]refluks[/url]
need help with my computer?I did this in my localhost and viewed the location page map is working.The same think is not working in server?Macbook keyboard HELP!!? [url=]Refluks[/url] I need to dump my entire hard drive on my windows vista?Which do you think I'll get?is it possible to make such an exception in an html code?

backlink checker free backlink service

Date: 2011-10-02 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
buy backlink seo org backlink service ( high quality backlinks


lareinenoire: (Default)

October 2010

101112131415 16

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 11:28 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios