ANNE BOLEYN at The Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham
by Howard Brenton
Director: Gordon Parsons.
Oh if only I'd had paid more attention in my history lessons at school! Did they really behave like that?
It's like Carry On Vs Yes Minister with it's very saucy language and "nudge nudge wink wink" raised eyebrowed style of acting, mixed in with a generous dollop of political skullduggery, but oh what an enjoyable slice of history twas laid before a packed theatre tonight!
We start off with King James 1, played by Gordon Cullen, who cornered the market tonight for the "nudge nudge" naughty schoolboy, ever so slightly rude King who enjoyed dressing up in Anne's dresses (this received a wolf whistle from the audience), who also managed to talk to the ghost of Anne which drew us back in time to the story of Anne Boleyn.
Anne was played by Kareena Sims, very saucy and what a tramp! A woman who knew how to play her man and to get what she wanted, when she wanted it, even teasing the audience at the start by.... well you'll have to see how!
Chris Ireson did a wonderful job as King Henry 8th, really bringing the King down to a "common level" if you like, someone we could relate to as a person.
These three main characters, albeit having great comic sides, also were revealed to have a more sensitive side which all three actors managed to produce well. Not that easy to turn an audience's feelings around from laughing at a character to feel sorry for them and their fate.
There's always a baddie in any play and Jason Wrighton gets to exercise his nastiness playing Thomas Cromwell, a real nasty piece of work.
Zaff Malik played Barrow. He sounded and look every bit the Puritan martyr. The way he enticed Henry into debate was incredibly convincing. Malik's classically vocal, infused intonation as well as his theatrical stagecraft drew the audiences' eyes towards him and his character. Comments afterwards in the foyer drew Barrow out as the second favourite character. "I found him as enticing, but in a crazed way, as Anne, an exact opposite" one said. He certainly left a mark on my mind alongside Kareena's "Anne". Keep an eye out for Malik in the future
It's a fairly large cast which all fit in well with each other's characters and interact well with the various roles. There's a great camaraderie comes through which makes this serious historic era more human.
The costumes for the period were wonderful and a special mention for Barry Holland who I know has spent almost every waking hour sewing and creating the marvellous costumes on that stage.
There are probably loads more I could say about Anne Boleyn, like the live period music which really set the tone and the atmosphere for the play, the dramatic opening with guillotine-esque sound effect and blackout but to get the full Boleyn experience pop down to the Lace Market Theatre and see what I'm talking about.