If only all history lessons could be as sparky, bright and entertaining as the English Touring Theatre’s production of Anne Boleyn, playing all this week at Hall For Cornwall. With minstrels in the gallery, a hugely talented all-singing all-dancing cast, a humdinger of a script and a marvellous brew of humour and drama this is a show not to be missed.
It is true ensemble theatre with many of the actors doubling, or even tripling, up. Their delivery and timing bring out all the best in Howard Brenton‘s sparkling lines, which provide a whole new perspective on the convoluted tale of Anne Boleyn’s tempestuous relationship with Henry VIII. It is theatre in which the silences and pauses are as telling and forceful as the words themselves.
To single out any actors in such a consistently strong cast seems almost unfair on the rest. But especial praise must go to Claire Bond, who provides a zesty, feisty Boleyn, whimsical, manipulative and courageously pugnacious in her unrelenting fight for religious freedom, and to James Garnon as the Tourette’s afflicted King James who almost steals the show with his madcap rantings and hilarious cavortings.
All in all, a wonderful night of theatre and a show not to be missed from its surprise beginning to its boisterous end.