Robert Bolt’s play ‘A Man for all Seasons’ about the life and times of Sir Thomas More is one of my favourite plays. It is such a stirring work, and a fitting tribute to a man who Samuel Johnson described as ‘the person of the greatest virtue that the British isles ever produced’.
Bolt’s play specifically charts the struggle between Sir Thomas More and the destructive King Henry V111. This was at then time when King Henry V111 found himself in a child-less marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and needed to divorce her, so he could wed Anne Boleyn.
King Henry V111demanded that Sir Thomas More ease the way in his divorce with Anne Boleyn, and cut a few religious corners, which More refused to do. More paid dearly for his convictions, being executed under the King’s orders.
In theme, Bolt’s play, which is superbly structured, has a lot in common with Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’. This is another stirring work, with the main character John Proctor paying with his life, when he refuses to give in- to the powers that be.
Joyce Birch’s production for the Genesian Theatre Company is impressive and passionate. Owen Gimblett’s compact set, Susan Carveth and Sandra Bass’s medieval costumes, Michael Schell’s soundtrack of bytes of Tudor music, and Michael Schell’s clear lighting plot, set the scene well.
The cast gave everything to the play, and though of varying ability, there was some good work. Michael Barnacourt as the steadfast Sir Thomas More, Dave Kirkham as the shifty Duke, and Eric Bicknell as the nasty piece of work, Thomas Cromwell, gave strong, convincing portrayals.
The Genesian Theatre Company returns to the murder mystery genre with their next production, Agatha Christie’s ‘Cards on the Table’, to be directed by Debbie Smith, beginning in early September.