Ann Boleyn @ EFT
On a pristine, beautifully lit stage, a barefoot, ghostly Anne Boleyn makes her entrance. In classical RSC style she addresses the audience, challenging them to guess what’s inside the bloodstained bag she is carrying. Her head? Yes, but to her, what is more important is the little black book she produces: William Tyndale’s banned Protestant bible, of which she owned a copy. Seventy years after Anne’s execution, James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England, and finds Anne’s bible. The show follows both Anne’s flirtation with Henry VIII, their wedding, and her life at court, and the political and religious issues that James I has to deal with.
Written by Howard Brenton and directed by John Dove, Anne Boleyn shows the infamous second wife of Henry VIII not only as a seductress but as a lucid politician who loved God as much as the king and wanted to make her country Protestant. The play does not only offer an interesting historical study of life at court under the Tudors: it also balances romance and humour really skilfully. While the relationship between Jo Herbert (who does a superb job at playing a witty, smart Anne) and David Sturzaker (Henry) is endearing, the comicality of James Garnon as a coarse, vaguely neurotic James I is irresistible and never failed to raise laughs. Informative, romantic and hilarious, Anne Boleyn is one of those shows that you just can’t stop thinking about.