Anne of the Thousand Days covers three of the most turbulent years in our country’s history. Henry VIII, desperate for a son to secure the succession, starts to court Anne Boleyn while he is still married to Catherine of Aragon – and while he is having an affair with Anne’s sister! The play explores the relationships of the central characters as the crisis develops: the shattering outcome is the creation of a new Church of England, the looting of Catholic monasteries and abbeys and a seismic change in England’s relationships with Rome and other major European powers. And a show-trial …
|Anne Boleyn||Ali Davenport|
|Henry the Eighth||Scott Ransome|
|Cardinal Wolsey||Nick Sample|
|Thomas Boleyn||Geoff Noar|
|Henry Norris||Jon White|
|Mark Smeaton||Joe Meighan|
|Duke of Norfolk||Bill Platt|
|Lord Percy, Duke of Northumberland||Andrew Higson|
|Elizabeth Boleyn||Sandy McGuire|
|Mary Boleyn||Di Boyer|
|Jane Seymour||Paula Keen|
|Thomas Cromwell||Trevor McKie|
|Ensemble Cast:||Kathryn Worthington, David Ades|
|Jonathan Black, Paul Wilson|
Review from Sale & Altrincham Messenger by Rick Bowen
Fit for a King – Anne at Altrincham Garrick
If you’re expecting a dry and dull history lesson when you go to see ‘Anne of the Thousand Days’ you’ll be very pleasantly surprised. There’s plenty of humour in Maxwell Anderson’s expertly constructed play, Altrincham Garrick’s latest production, and Anderson also humanises King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. So much so you do feel for her when the court conspires against her and she ultimately ends up with her head on the chopping block. It’s worth paying the ticket money just to see Scott Ransome play Henry – what a stage presence this man has and there’s an emotional intensity between him and Ali Davenport who plays Anne. So much so they seem, to all intents and purposes, like a real couple. The production’s success is also down to director Geoff Holman who is highly adept when it comes to getting the best out of a cast. Anne of the Thousand Days’ grips, moves and amuses in equal measure and not a word of the rich, intelligent and accessible dialogue is wasted. It would be impossible to review this without mentioning the lavish costumes designed by Mike Shaw and his team. Eye poppingly lavish, these costumes certainly wouldn’t look out of place on the Manchester professional stage.
Anne of the Thousand Days ‘might not instantly appeal to some, but if you stay at home you’ll be missing out on a truly memorable theatrical experience. A play fit for a king. Star Rating ★★★★
Review of Anne Of The Thousand Days by Julia Taylor for remotegoat
Anne Boleyn, Queen and victim
I wonder if Elizabeth 1st ever forgave her father for engineering the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn? We don’t find the answer in Maxwell Anderson’s Anne of the Thousand Days because we don’t actually see her, just her cradle. But no-one would blame her if she held that resentment for life. Henry VIII’s scheming, lusting and attitude to religion are presented graphically in this production centred on the coupling of the King with Anne even though he has already seduced her sister and she is only 18 and engaged to someone else. This play depends, not only on superb acting provided by a cast which exceed even the Garrick’s high standard of performance, but also on the accuracy and intricacy of the costumes Mike Shaw and his wardrobe department are to be congratulated. Ali Davenport, who is on stage most of the time in the role of Anne, captures well the emotion of a girl who at first resents Henry’s approaches but then falls if not for him, for his power. In the thousand days after her coronation as queen , there is only one day when they come together equally in love. For the rest she is a feisty tease until Henry bores of her. Yet, even when he visits her in the Tower of London, you can still detect the sexual chemistry between them. Anne revels in wealth and position only to be dragged down into fear and outrage at the way she is treated when, after giving birth to a daughter and a stillborn son, Henry’s lusting eyes turn elsewhere. Betrayed by her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk (Bill Platt) she faces execution bravely. Henry is played by Scott Ransome. He illustrates the selfishness of a man who murders Roman Catholic clergy and burns down monasteries just to have Anne whom he later casts aside like a toy thrown out of the bath. Petulant, bitter and aging, he is surrounded by sycophants, yet all he craves is love and a son. He says so in a wonderful speech which receives audience applause. In his maltreatment of Anne, he is assisted by, not only the scheming Duke of Norfolk, but also the snake-like Thomas Cromwell (Trevor McKie) who tortures several men whom he accuses of committing adultery with the Queen. This play is worth seeing just to be reminded of the cataclysmic time when our relationship with Rome was broken and the Church of England created. The relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is one which changed the course of history and, in this production, directed by Geoff Holman, the Garrick have changed the course of their own history.
NODA Review by Kevin Proctor
The Altrincham Garrick presents this production of Maxwell Anderson’s 1948 historical drama which details the relationship, eventual marriage and tragic climax between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. The story of how Henry, eager to end his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he may legitimately marry Anne Boleyn, comes into conflict with the Pope and eventually breaks with the Catholic Church, is indeed powerful material and delivered with excellence by yet another of the Garrick’s thriving casts. The entire performance was full of grand pageantry, the set was a collection of simple columns and arches with drapes while the back wall of the stage was used to project colour and images to enhance the mood of each particular scene, as well as keep us in line with dates to follow the story, all working to full effect. Making one of the grandest statements, yet again were Mike Shaw?s collection of magnificent costumes. Ali Davenport – never failing to impress – portrayed Anne Boleyn with vigour as did Scott Ransome as King Henry VIII. Scott’s emphasis on the character was pushed to all the right levels, he was powerful, charismatic and arrogant equally exposing the Kings softer, more loving side to outstanding results. Henry can easily become the Lead in this play but both the Director Geoff Holman and Scott as Henry understood that this is ultimately Anne?s story and held back Henry’s character which could easily overtake and become the front runner, kudos for this! The text is no walk in the park, keeping the audience engaged was an immense effort from both the players and the director, to which they succeeded. Personally I would’ve liked Anne?s death to have been a little more creative and gruesome instead of symbolic, but that?s me, any excuse for a bit of gore and slaughter, well, it is Tudor after all! The cast of 14 supporting roles each delivered competent performances of high calibre, particularly Nick Sample as Cardinal Wolsey who performed with ease and demonstrated a formidable interpretation.
Another thoroughly enjoyable evening at the Garrick, Thank you and Congratulations!
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