Anne Boleyn, Shakespeare's Globe, London
Tuesday 19 July 2011
"I will be a new Queen for a new England," cries Spooks star Miranda Raison as King Hal's spooky spouse Anne Boleyn, with her head tucked underneath her arm; you just wonder, on the evidence of this spirited and enchanting portrait, how great she might have been, outshining even her own daughter, Elizabeth I.
It's certainly Howard Brenton's thesis that during her brief three-year marriage she played a major role in the political manoeuvres and religious in-fighting at Henry's court, furthering the cause of Protestantism in her enthusiasm for the Tyndale Bible.
But she was something of a Catholic, too, in her enthusiasm for her own virginity. Unlike her sister, an easy and earlier king's mistress, she stands firm against "condom" devices including such half measures as an amulet of hare's anus.
"A little further up your knee," pleads Anthony Howell's bluff King Hal after five years of courtship. Anne holds out for two more years then announces a 15-minute interval for a backstage quickie.
Raison is delightful even in the smuttier reaches of the script, repeating the performance of great wit and spirit she gave last year, when Brenton's play was a worthy award-winner. Always one of our most visceral playwrights, Brenton's been on a recent roll with his plays about Abelard and Héloise, and Saint Paul.
He's found more ideal material in Anne's alliance with William Tyndale (played as a West Country spellbinder by Peter Hamilton Dyer) and her battle with Colin Hurley's mountainous Wolsey and Julius D'Silva's brutal Thomas Cromwell.
The play is cunningly framed in another alliance, entirely fictional, with her daughter's successor to the throne, King James, who adopted the Tyndale Bible as his own. In James Garnon's compelling performance, James is a juddering jackanapes with an unbounded enthusiasm for Anne's wardrobe of 2000 dresses. "What did you start?" he asks Anne, meaning the hilarious scenes of clerical confusion in the second act, but also, perhaps, his cross-dressing fervour, which becomes a metaphor of religious upheaval.
These scenes are beautifully staged by John Dove, with a robust, non-heritage score by William Lyons played on virginals, dulcimer, bells, viols and percussion.
To 21 August (020 7401 9919)
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 4 Amy Winehouse unpublished 2004 interview: ‘Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby’
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?
Hercules, review: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson takes centre stage in preposterous film
Fight Club 2: Chuck Palahniuk sequel is a 'meta-fictional comment on the cultural response to the original'
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia