Friday, 6 August 2010

henry viii

I saw my second-last canonical Shakespeare this afternoon, a 2pm matinee of Henry VIII at Shakespeare's Globe.I was standing, as often, and there was less space than usual and especially less leaning space, because they extended the stage and had lots of steps - a little annoying, actually, downgrading the yard to just an extension of the wings, creating extra access points.

I enjoyed it very well; I don't know why it's so little performed, it was certainly more enjoyable than some others I've seen. I guess there is less action, more scenes with characters telling others about some event that happened off stage, and more set pieces of court and pageant. There's a good part for Queen Catherine of Aragon, and she (Kate Duchene) was the stand-out actor I thought. I don't think I recognised her; I recognised quite a few of the others, although not form anything in particular expect for one chap (Colin Hurley) I knew from the Factory productions of Hamlet. The most well-known actor in it was Miranda Raison, playing Anne Boleyn, who's been in a couple of recent tv series which I haven't seen; she certainly appeared more striking than the other ladies in waiting, but perhaps only because she was better dressed and made up than them which was a bit of a cheat. Henry looked like a cross between Orson Welles, Jonathan Frakes and Charlie Higson.

Reviews (more blogs coming up now in a search for reviews and I'm including some from the top of the search; also of course now there's the Times paywall). Telegraph. Independent. Guardian. What's On Stage. IndieLondon. Evening Standard. Ah, The Times ('archive'). The Stage. Music OMH. London Theatre Blog. There Ought To Be Clowns blog. Mark Ronan's Theatre Reviews. Londonist. The Bardathon blog.

A number of them, of course, mention that it was during a performance of this play that the original Globe burned down, and also that it was probably written in collaboration with John Fletcher. One review reminded me that for the first while I half expected the Queen to be squeezed out of her top, so tight and overflowingly upwards was her bosom squeezed; maybe this was alarmingly authentic. Some reviews didn't like her performance at all, some barely mentioned it, some liked it as I did.

So, bring on King John. Somebody.