Title: Anne Boleyn
Writer: Howard Brenton
Publishing House: Nick Hern Books
Date of Publication: August 16th 2011 (first published July 22nd 2010)
Rating: 2 stars
Tormented Queen Anne is possibly my favourite historical figure. A woman as fascinating as she was controversial, a woman who left her mark on English History with her wit, her charm and the injustice that was done to her. Above all, her legacy is gloriously demonstrated in the face of her only child, Elizabeth I, who became one of the greatest monarchs on World History. I try to read and watch every depiction of Anne, from ‘’The Tudors’’- a TV series of non-existent historical accuracy and questionable acting performances, Gregory’s novel which created a mass-market kind of History to dubious results to Mantel’s masterpiece. Each writer presents a different Anne, many are led by preferences and prejudices. We cannot avoid this as we cannot avoid our own feelings so the differences are understandable. My expectations for this play were high. A modern depiction of Anne? Count me in! At first, the omens were great but in the end I was severely disappointed….
(Lovely Miranda Raison as Queen Anne. A beautiful choice.)
The opening scene is striking, done to perfection. Anne is beautifully depicted. Bright, charming, straightforward. The focus is one her contribution on the religious reformation of the realm, not on her sexual prowess or her so-called wickedness. So, Anne’s part is definitely exceptionally constructed. Unfortunately, Anne wasn’t enough to salvage the play for me. In my opinion, the other historical figures are inadequately portrayed to the point of being debased. I never had any sympathy for James V but having him dressed in women’s clothes, frolicking with a Duke on stage? I don’t know, I admit this isn’t my idea of fun. Furthermore, the writing striked me as unbalanced. There were certainly moments of beauty but the overall result was quite weird and, in my opinion, bad. The playwright probably aimed to create mix of contemporary, modernist dialogue but I found the interactions naive, absurd and loaded with unnecessary swearing and hysterics. I felt there was no hint of respect for the on-stage transformation of a period that sealed the history of Europe forever. Perhaps the purpose was to create a Satire? Even so, I’ve never been one to enjoy satires. My sense of humor is non-existent and I apologise for that:)
Could this be a case that confirms a play should be seen and not read? I never agreed with this statement but I don’t altogether dismiss it. However, I can’t fathom how such bad dialogue could work on stage, even if it was uttered by the finest thespian.Then again, it is a fairly acclaimed work so it must have done something right. Speaking strictly for me, this isn’t agreeable with my personal ideas and convictions of what Theatre means, it failed to do justice to a bloody wonderful period.
For more on Anne and the Tudor History visit this website https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com