Sunday, May 13, 2007


The play of departures!

Just finished the second half of the BBC Henry the Eighth: Jolly good too!

What struck me most was the number of departures - and no one given a bad end.

Written well after the events - in a Protestant country - out of the Tudor reign; and no blame to be seen.

Wolsey dies an honest Christian; Catholic Catherine dies a saint's death; Cranmer - to die at the stake under Catherine's daughter's yoke - is deeply holy and prophesies, at the christening of baby Elizabeth, nothing but glory - and virginity and death.

What was Shakey thinking?

Surely it was written for a court performance under James? It is a chamber piece - so much 'internal' - so protagonist free.

What vice there is, is that of ambition and court pettiness. There is no evil here.

It is the fall of angels. Foreshadows of Milton – Wolsey’s words at his end especially.

And what a production – as close to where it should be as the Beeb could get – genuine Tudor locations (so right for this chamber piece).

But still something missing?

Maybe the theatrical.

How intriguing that the original Globe burnt down during a performance of this play – the theatre itself rebelling at so strange a play?

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