Bring up the Bodies is the second of Hilary Mantle’s prize winning novels that has been adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton. There is no necessity to have seen Wolfhall first, but if you can, do, it is brilliant (click here to see the Wolfhall review).
In Bring up the Bodies we return to the court of King Henry VIII where Anne Boleyn is queen and Cromwell is well established as the King’s closest counsellor and chief fixer. Anne Boleyn has not produced a male heir for Henry, as she promised and this torments the King, whose attentions and affections increasingly fall upon Jane Seymour.
The stage is dramatically plain; the grey background is dominated by the presence of a huge but subtle cross, a constant reminder of Henry’s conflict with the Catholic Church that has left the country isolated and without strong allies. Henry becomes haunted by a vision of what will happen to his country if he dies without leaving a legitimate male heir; Nathaniel Parker is excellent as Henry VIII showing the King’s torment, vanity and petulant desires masterfully. Ben Mile’s portrayal of Cromwell continues to be thoroughly enjoyable to watch, he bullies, manipulates, charms and torments those who can help him get what the king most desires and advance his own position. The play cleverly provides an intelligent and calculating edge to Cromwell’s character that never allows him to forget how easily it is to fall from the King’s favour and uses the ghosts of Wolsey and More to remind us of past events. The slow demise of Anne Boleyn and Cromwell’s desperate search for a legal mechanism to discredit her and her marriage to the king could have been dull to watch on stage, but with Poulton’s brilliant script and the RSC cast it becomes engrossing.
Both Wolfhall and Bring up the Bodies are showing in New York from the 20th March 2015. Click here for more information: http://wolfhallbroadway.com/
Both Wolfhall and Bring up the Bodies have been an outstanding success and the demand for tickets has been so great that it was recently announced that both plays will extend their run in London by an extra 4 weeks, until 04th October.
Bring up the Bodies is currently showing at Aldwych Theatre in London and will now run until 04th October 2014. For more information and tickets go to: www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/bring-up-the-bodies