‘Anne Boleyn’, H. Brenton

I had the great pleasure of going to theatre yesterday — the play I saw in the Maddermarket Theatre was ‘Anne Boleyn’, written by Howard Brenton. This was the first time I went to this theatre, but quite definitely it shall not be the last. I enjoyed the play very much indeed, quite possibly the main reason for this being the wonderful character of Anne herself. She was brilliant, there is no other way to describe it.

Of the surprises that the play cast towards me, a definite one was bringing James I into the action. Thinking about it slightly more made the overall setting fit though. It was an interesting way of looking back at the tumultuous period of Henry VIII, and, from my perspective, definitely an unique one.

What enthralled me most was the way in which Anne was characterised; she was a Queen in name and deed, and as Cromwell’s character muttered later, he had had enough with politicking women. Anne definitely had her ideas and did her best to carry them through, and I think that was for the best, if not for the best for her. Missing a head can generally be considered a problem…

However, with the vision that the play suggests, would Anne truly have minded the loss of her own head for the progress that England achieved in the direction she hoped it would?

The play is probably rightly called slightly too ‘kind’ in Anne’s direction and with her character (I dug up a review to see what others think), but it is incredibly difficult for any of us now to divine the motives of people from centuries ago. There is nothing to say that Mr Brenton’s approach is not the more correct one from the generally demonstrated ‘woman on the prey’.

As a piece of alternative thinking, therefore, if in nothing else, this play is worth the time. And if the character of Anne you see is as envigorating and strong as she may have been in real life, as was the case yesterday, that much better indeed!

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