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Ladies in Waiting: The Judgement of Henry VIII

ensemble theatre · tier 5 theatre project · Ages 12+ · United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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Review by CHARLES ZIARKO

June 14, 2017 certified reviewer

What I liked

Launched in England and produced previously at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this 68-minute talkfest is skillful, scintillating and historically fascinating, abetted by a program of credits which also thankfully puts dates in front of you to which you can refer while watching the show, which is not in chronological order!
The cast (1m/6f-!) is 100% superb! This deserves a off-off-Broadway showcase!

What I didn't like

Walking up that long, long flight of 28 steps to get the the Feury theatre, which is a cozy jewel box of about three dozen seats across from Paramount!

My overall impression

Wow! An ambitious historical project which functions brilliantly within the stringent production parameters of the Fringe Festival! King Henry VIII confronts his six wives (2 beheaded, 2 divorced, only one dead of natural causes, only one a tenacious survivor) in what would be Purgatory if he hadn’t replaced Catholicism with his own church.
Henry (also the author: James Cougar Canfield) reminded me of Kenneth Branagh (and Simon Russell Beale) in his power and skill, and all of the wives give excellent accounts of themselves, as actors and characters, varying only in the amount of influence (and playing time) they are accorded by history. Anne of Cleves (#5) comes and goes quickly; Catherine of Aragon (#1, for 18 years) appropriately closes the show. Smart, simple, suggestive costumes —and a prop throne—abet the succession of scenes, and that’s enough!
Henry’s marital history seems to be half succession jitters and half midlife crisis! How very different English history might have been if Wife #1 hadn’t miscarried the son she could have given him!

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