Richard, John, David, and I saw these two plays on Broadway on 4/25. They’re adaptations of the best-selling books by Hilary Mantel, historical fiction about Henry VIII. Mike Poulton adapted them for the stage, they premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London last May and moved to Broadway in March. *Wolf Hall, Part One* is about Henry trying to get rid of Catherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne Boleyn. *Wolf Hall, Part Two* (the book is called *Bring Up the Bodies*) is about Henry trying to get rid of Anne Boleyn to marry Jane Seymour. Thomas Cromwell is the central character in both plays.
The plays were professionally done, involving, good theatre. But not particularly thrilling and not very memorable at all. Richard (a history buff, especially English history) said it’s the story that’s the most thrilling thing onstage, and Mantel and Poulton can’t really take credit for that, can they? All of the performances were good, it was well staged. Maybe the plays are a little too chatty, but I haven’t read the books, so I don’t know what they could have cut out without upsetting fans of the books.
The best thing in the show was the lighting design, some of the best lighting design I’ve ever seen. They had a unit set - - a back all with a slightly raised platform, walls on the sides with arches for entrances and exits, sometimes bits of furniture was brought in, sometimes a fire would spontaneously rise out of the floor. The action moved rapidly from room to room, and all of the set changes were done with the lighting. I’d never seen anything like it - - it was an elegant solution and damned impressive.