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Henry VIII eBook PDF, ePub eBook Retells, in comic book format, Shakespeare's play about the life of the sixteenth-century English monarch.

30 review for Henry VIII eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    There are lots of things about this play that please and impress me, but somehow I don't think it quite works. The best things about it are two scenes probably by Fletcher: the sympathetic portrait of Katharine of Aragon's self-defense and the dignified soliloquy of the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey after his fall. The next best thing is the artful, ironic context Shakespeare builds around them, first by creating a magnificent description of the wrestling match staged between Henry VIII and Francis There are lots of things about this play that please and impress me, but somehow I don't think it quite works. The best things about it are two scenes probably by Fletcher: the sympathetic portrait of Katharine of Aragon's self-defense and the dignified soliloquy of the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey after his fall. The next best thing is the artful, ironic context Shakespeare builds around them, first by creating a magnificent description of the wrestling match staged between Henry VIII and Francis I --evoking a golden age in much the same way that Enobarbus' barge-speech does in Antony and Cleopatra--and then following it almost immediately with the fall of the Duke of Buckingham, engineered on trumped-up charges by the Machiavellian Wolsey. Thus the authors let us know early on that the nobility here is superficial, barely concealing calculation and self-interest. I think the major reasons the play as a whole is unsatisfactory is that Henry VIII never really comes to life, either as a king or a man, and the ending--which seems to imply that "all's well that ends well" because of the birth of Elizabeth--leaves the major dramatic issues unresolved. Still, the verse is often effective and occasionally powerful, and I think every Shakespeare fan should read it--at least once.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James

    Book Review 3 of 5 stars to Henry VIII, a play written in 1613 by William Shakespeare. This play originally had a different title and there is also some suspicion that it was co-written with another person at the time. It was towards the end of Shakespeare's career where while his brilliance had grown quite impressive, his fame and fortune was also being thrust more and more into the spotlight to the point of being accused of some level of crimes against the government. Similarly, the battles Book Review 3 of 5 stars to Henry VIII, a play written in 1613 by William Shakespeare. This play originally had a different title and there is also some suspicion that it was co-written with another person at the time. It was towards the end of Shakespeare's career where while his brilliance had grown quite impressive, his fame and fortune was also being thrust more and more into the spotlight to the point of being accused of some level of crimes against the government. Similarly, the battles between the different churches of England were in full swing. When you read this play, you sense a bit of disconnect. It's not a comedy or a tragedy in my opinion. It's about reality, i.e. what King Henry VIII had been previously going through with this divorces, six wives, etc. The focus is on Katherine of Aragon and the church's position on Henry's request to re-marry. There are lots of good lines and passages in the play, but it isn't one of his better plays. I'm also not one for propaganda-type literature, instead preferring something to take me away from reality. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I can't say that the writing is bad, per-se, more that the topic is unworthy except for being an obligatory propagandist piece to prop up the worthiness of the Anglican church versus the Catholics. I'm sure no one is surprised on this count. There's rather less of the real drama that surrounded the King the man and all his travails or misogyny surrounding his six wives or the interesting women surrounding this historic character, rather it's just the focus on the single quasi-divorce still under t I can't say that the writing is bad, per-se, more that the topic is unworthy except for being an obligatory propagandist piece to prop up the worthiness of the Anglican church versus the Catholics. I'm sure no one is surprised on this count. There's rather less of the real drama that surrounded the King the man and all his travails or misogyny surrounding his six wives or the interesting women surrounding this historic character, rather it's just the focus on the single quasi-divorce still under the Catholic eye and the fall of the Cardinal and the succession of our dear Elisabeth by her on-stage birth under the Anglican eye. Does it read as a set piece? A vanity play? A yawn-worthy white-wash of the man the Queen's father? Um, yeah, yeah, it does. *sigh* And here I'd hoped for a bit more drama more in line with the actual history. Alas. Not my favorite. By a long shot.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    “O, how wretched is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favors!” There is a lot of telling about things in “Henry VIII”, almost no showing, with just a few exceptions. The action happens offstage, we just get to hear about it in some exquisite language. Writer and scholar Harold Bloom has said that “Henry VIII” is a “better dramatic poem than a play” and he may be right. But whatever you call it, I enjoyed it. I gave "Henry VIII” a 3 star rating compared to other Shakespeare, not to literature as “O, how wretched is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favors!” There is a lot of telling about things in “Henry VIII”, almost no showing, with just a few exceptions. The action happens offstage, we just get to hear about it in some exquisite language. Writer and scholar Harold Bloom has said that “Henry VIII” is a “better dramatic poem than a play” and he may be right. But whatever you call it, I enjoyed it. I gave "Henry VIII” a 3 star rating compared to other Shakespeare, not to literature as a whole. The Bard is in a class of his own. In this edition the Introduction by Jonathan Crewe focuses on defending the play as worthy of Shakespeare. It is worth reading. Ironically, in this text Henry VIII is the least interesting character in the play. The text has some wonderful flashes, and three supporting characters get the play’s best moments and language. The first such instant is Act 2:1, the downfall of Buckingham, who as he is condemned to death for treason speaks some beautiful poetry. In Act 3:2 we get Cardinal Wolsey’s downfall and once again Shakespeare imbues an undeserving character with a moment of redemption and wonderful pathos at the scene of their decline and fall. The lesson in this, Will Shakespeare can write one heck of an awesome farewell/final moment. Act 2:4 and Act 3:1 are the Queen Katherine show. I really loved what she says and does in these scenes. Shakespeare has given her some of the greatest lines this text offers. And “Henry VIII” even boasts some ribald Shakespeare as there is a delightful scene (Act 2:3) where Anne Boleyn and an old woman share a discussion filled with bawdy sexual innuendo, subtext, and just plain human truth that is an example of the reason I love Will! Unfortunately, the last Act of this play is the weakest, by far. The text ends on a whimper and that greatly detracts from it. Hey, it happens. I enjoyed what preceded it enough to make up for it. The Pelican editions of Shakespeare contain some simple yet informative essays, “Theatrical World” & “The Texts of Shakespeare” that preface every play in this Pelican series. They are worth a read. As for the Pelican Shakespeare series, they are one of my two favorite editions since the scholarly research is usually top notch and the editions themselves look good as an aesthetic unit. It looks and feels like a play and this compliments the text's contents admirably. The Pelican series was recently reedited and has the latest scholarship on Shakespeare and his time period. Well priced and well worth it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00js7zb Description: A rare chance to hear Shakespeare's last play, starring Matthew Marsh and Patrick Malahide. Originally recorded to mark the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII. In 1509, the 17-year-old Henry acceded to the throne of England. Shakespeare's play, co-authored with John Fletcher, opens with the arrest for treason of the Duke of Buckingham 12 years later, and tells the story of Henry's struggle to divorce Katherine of Aragon, and the c http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00js7zb Description: A rare chance to hear Shakespeare's last play, starring Matthew Marsh and Patrick Malahide. Originally recorded to mark the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII. In 1509, the 17-year-old Henry acceded to the throne of England. Shakespeare's play, co-authored with John Fletcher, opens with the arrest for treason of the Duke of Buckingham 12 years later, and tells the story of Henry's struggle to divorce Katherine of Aragon, and the catastrophic fall of the all-powerful Cardinal Wolsey. Henry VIII ..... Matthew Marsh Queen Katherine ..... Yolanda Vazquez Cardinal Wolsey ..... Patrick Malahide Duke of Norfolk ..... Joseph Mydell Thomas Cranmer ..... Adam Godley Duke of Suffolk ..... Stuart McQuarrie Old Lady ..... Ann Beach Anne Boleyn ..... Donnla Hughes Buckingham/Cromwell ..... Paul Rider Chamberlain/Capuchius ..... Chris Pavlo Abergavenny/Surrey ..... Stephen Critchlow Surveyor/Gardiner ..... Gunnar Cauthery Sands/Campeius ..... Jonathan Tafler Lovell/Griffith ..... Dan Starkey Princess Elizabeth ..... Sonny Crowe Other parts played by Jill Cardo, Robert Lonsdale, Manjeet Mann, Inam Mirza, Malcolm Tierney. Pipe and Tabor played by Bill Tuck Eaxtra info: Known sometimes by the title 'All is True', Shakespeare and Fletcher's rarely performed play is a masterful analysis of the murky world of Tudor politics. A world where nothing can be taken on face value. Wolsey (Patrick Malahide) has control of the key offices of state as both Chancellor and Cardinal of York. Henry (Matthew Marsh) appears to be oblivious to criticism levelled at Wolsey by some of his senior courtiers, and the play opens with the trial and execution of one of Wolsey's most outspoken critics, the Duke of Buckingham. The trial of Katherine of Aragon (Yolanda Vazquez), motivated by Henry's scruple that his marriage to his late brother's wife was unlawful, is one of the most poignant scenes in Shakespeare. Henry is seen to be moved by Katherine's plight, and protests that she is the best of women. Following the divorce, Cardinal Wolsey is the author of his own undoing when he unwittingly reveals to Henry the true extent of his own profit from his position, and that he has been plotting with the Pope to undermine Henry's bid to marry Anne Boleyn. The play finishes with the rise of reformer Thomas Cranmer, and ends with the christening of the young Elizabeth. I once browsed this as I have all the plays, sonnets etc. in a volume, and found this to be sorely lacking on the page. However, this particular rendition by the BBC was thoroughly enjoyable and can recommend Sunday night's production, available for another 28 days via the link at the top of my review. Mantel's two books must be considered the defining literature on the times IMHO.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.” - Shakespeare & Fletcher, Henry VIII What do you get when you co-write a play and the other guy phones-it-in? What do you do when the other guy is William Shakespeare and his phoned-in stuff is still better than most writing you've seen or your own writing? I guess you just do what you do, write your scenes, work hard, and shut up. Here are my three main knocks against this play: 1. Phoned-in by the Bard (see also Cymbeline). “Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.” - Shakespeare & Fletcher, Henry VIII What do you get when you co-write a play and the other guy phones-it-in? What do you do when the other guy is William Shakespeare and his phoned-in stuff is still better than most writing you've seen or your own writing? I guess you just do what you do, write your scenes, work hard, and shut up. Here are my three main knocks against this play: 1. Phoned-in by the Bard (see also Cymbeline). 2. Co-written by John Fletcher (see also The Two Noble Kinsmen) 3. Quasi-propaganda crap for the Tudors see also ("Too soon, Too soon"). For those interested, according to Erdman and Fogel in 'Evidence for Authorship: Essays on Problems of Attribution,' the breakdown of authorship for this play is the following: Shakespeare: Act I, scenes i and ii; II,iii and iv; III,ii, lines 1–203 (to exit of King); V,i. Fletcher: Prologue; I,iii; II,i and ii; III,i, and ii, 203–458 (after exit of King); IV,i and ii; V ii–v; Epilogue. Anyway, the play is so bad it basically destroyed the Globe Theatre.* I kid, I kid. Favorite Lines: "Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot That it do singe yourself.” (Act 1, Scene 1) "I have touched the highest point of all my greatness; And from that full meridian of my glory I haste now to my setting: I shall fall Like a bright exhalation in the evening, And no man see me more.” (Act 3, Scene 2) "Press not a falling man too far!” (Act 3, Scene 2) “We all are men, in our own natures frail, and capable of our flesh; few are angels.” (Act 5, Scene 2). *Technically, it was a canon shot during the play that caught the thatched roof on fire, but give me a bit of poetic license here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Inkspill

    The core of the play is an allegory as England switches from Catholicism to Protestant, Cranmer is on trial accused of practicing the Protestant religion, he’s found guilty by a court who follows Catholicism, but not for long, Henry VIII steps in and overrules the verdict, makes Cranmer a godfather to his newly born, later to be Queen Elizabeth I, and tells them all to be friends. They do, all is forgiven and it ends on happy note praising Elizabeth at her christening. Whilst all this happening, The core of the play is an allegory as England switches from Catholicism to Protestant, Cranmer is on trial accused of practicing the Protestant religion, he’s found guilty by a court who follows Catholicism, but not for long, Henry VIII steps in and overrules the verdict, makes Cranmer a godfather to his newly born, later to be Queen Elizabeth I, and tells them all to be friends. They do, all is forgiven and it ends on happy note praising Elizabeth at her christening. Whilst all this happening, Shakespeare compacts historical that span decade, starting with Wolsey’s falls, Henry VIII divorcing Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn, and England’s religion going through a major overhaul and ending on a happy Henry VIII to have a new daughter. I found reading this enjoyable and helpful alongside Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and it was a bonus I understood it without too much difficulty, probably more down to having a vague sense of Tudor history. Though the notes did come in handy, like on page 213, where the line says: “My noble gossips …”, where I would not have realised ‘gossip’ means ‘godparents’ – I would have never guessed that :) This play is not factually accurate, but the essay in this edition explains why. It also explains how many critics thought Shakespeare wrote to be performed as part of the wedding celebrations of Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of James I, who succeeded the English throne after Elizabeth I. In the text I am told through his reign people remembered Elizabeth I fondly. This addition also come with illustrations and photos, and in detail talks about performances of this play over the centuries on both sides of the Atlantic, naming casts and summarising critical reception. Overall, whenever this play was performed it was well received, but the essays go on to say it is rarely performed now. I read this as a kindle, but the formatting is a complete mess (making it impossible to follow and hope OUP issue an update with corrections, soon would be good :)) ) so I had to get a paperback copy to follow it, and after a while I got the hang of it. Regardless, the notes are very detailed, perfect if you are bookish like me. I could have also enjoyed reading a version without any notes and extras, which surprises me, the poetry, the drama all came to together for me, and I would definitely read this again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    Make no mistake, Henry VIII is not a "bad" play. It rates 2 stars only because it doesn't hold up against the 3- and 4-star ratings I've given other Shakespeare plays here on my shelves. The biggest problem Henry VIII has is a lack of focus and/or a central character. In terms of focus, we go from Katherine's divorce to Wolsey's downfall to Cranmer's rise to Elizabeth's baptism. All in five acts. There's too much here to adequately develop in the scope of a single play; even in the hands of a mast Make no mistake, Henry VIII is not a "bad" play. It rates 2 stars only because it doesn't hold up against the 3- and 4-star ratings I've given other Shakespeare plays here on my shelves. The biggest problem Henry VIII has is a lack of focus and/or a central character. In terms of focus, we go from Katherine's divorce to Wolsey's downfall to Cranmer's rise to Elizabeth's baptism. All in five acts. There's too much here to adequately develop in the scope of a single play; even in the hands of a master like the Bard. In terms of characters, there a several good potentials here, Katherine and Wolsey standing out above all others. Both get some good scenes and some good monologues like their confrontation in Act 3, scene 1: Katherine protests that she is a "mere woman" and Wolsey pretends to be her friend with only her best interests at heart: Wolsey: Noble lady,/ I am sorry my integrity should breed,/ and service to his majesty and you,/ so deep suspicion, where all faith was meant./ We come not by the way of accusation,/ to taint that honour every good tongue blesses,/ nor to betray you any way to sorrow - / you have too much, good lady - / but to know/ how you stand minded in the weighty difference/ between the king and you, and to deliver,/ like free and honest men, our just opinions/ and comforts to your cause.... Katherine: (aside) To betray me. - / My lords, I thank you both for your good wills;/ ye speak like honest men: pray God, ye prove so!/ But how to make ye suddenly an answer,/ in such a point of weight, so near mine honour,/ more near my life, I fear, with my weak wit,/ and to such men of gravity and learning,/ in truth, I know not..../ Alas, I am a woman, friendless, hopeless! And there's Wolsey's leave-taking of Cromwell in scene 2 of that act. The overall effect of the play, though, is diluted and weak even if there are good parts to be found.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Previously, things I've read covering the historically crucial events surrounding Henry VIII's divorce and subsequent break from the Catholic Church have focused on Wolsey, More, Cromwell and Henry himself, ignoring Katherine, whom Henry is dumping in favour of Anne Boleyn. This is different: Thomas More is conspicuous by his absence - he's not even name-dropped - and Katherine is very much front and centre of the middle part of the play. Katherine and Wolsey are presented as Tragic figures: Kath Previously, things I've read covering the historically crucial events surrounding Henry VIII's divorce and subsequent break from the Catholic Church have focused on Wolsey, More, Cromwell and Henry himself, ignoring Katherine, whom Henry is dumping in favour of Anne Boleyn. This is different: Thomas More is conspicuous by his absence - he's not even name-dropped - and Katherine is very much front and centre of the middle part of the play. Katherine and Wolsey are presented as Tragic figures: Katherine as undeserving victim, powerless but eloquent in her own, ultimately futile defence. Wolsey as worldly schemer for Rome and his own self-aggrandisement who ultimately repents, apparently sincerely and with great humility, when caught conspiring against the divorce and lining his own pockets from the national Treasury. What of Henry? He reminds me of Julius Caesar; the instigator of the action but really not the dramatic lead. Intrigue, plots, chaos and death swirl around him but he remains mostly a cypher. He doesn't die half way through, like Caesar, of course. Instead he lives on to see Anne Boleyn betray his hopes by giving birth to a daughter. That daughter is prophetically praised in the final scene; the baby that will become the legendary Virgin Queen of Shakespeare's day and save Britain from Spain, Rome, all and sundry... How much of the Tudor idolatry was merely political expediency is open to question, given the extremely sympathetic treatment of Katherine, the fact that Shakespeare was brought up in a Catholic household and the lack of any unequivocal statement about Will's own religious leanings. The play impresses more by way of the characterisation and eloquence of Wolsey and Katherine than it does as a coherent drama as a whole.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Shakespeare's Comeback 31 August 2015 You know those directors/authors who go into retirement (or even sporting heroes, but this is book website so I don't think sports stars quite cut it) and then a few years later decided to make a comeback with another movie/book and despite all of the hype it ends out being little more than rubbish? Well, this is one of those books. Yes, I know, it was written by William Shakespeare, and yes, I know, I have given it two stars, so I guess you probably think I Shakespeare's Comeback 31 August 2015 You know those directors/authors who go into retirement (or even sporting heroes, but this is book website so I don't think sports stars quite cut it) and then a few years later decided to make a comeback with another movie/book and despite all of the hype it ends out being little more than rubbish? Well, this is one of those books. Yes, I know, it was written by William Shakespeare, and yes, I know, I have given it two stars, so I guess you probably think I am some sort of heathen, but I must admit that I really didn't enjoy this play. Okay, maybe I should fall back onto the argument that it is a play and it is meant to be performed, not read, but to be honest with you I'm not all that willing to fork out my hard earned money to go and see a production of this play. I guess the first problem that I had with this play was that one of the main characters had the name Wolsley and every time he appeared in a scene I simply could not help but picture him looking like this: Yeah, I know, I've watched too much Stargate, but seriously that was one awesome science-fiction series and it is very rare that a science-fiction series of that calibure not only comes along, let alone lasts fifteen seasons. Anyway, while it is really tempting to write about how awesome Stargate is this review is of a less than ordinary Shakespeare play so I better remain on topic (not that that has stopped me in the past). Anyway, as you can tell, the play is about King Henry VIII – you know, the one that was famous for removing his wive's heads from their body. It seemed as if divorce wasn't good enough, so when he got sick and tired of Anne Boylen instead of paying her off and dumping her in some remote castle he decided to make sure that she couldn't come back and haunt him. Okay, removing Kathrine of Aragon's head probably wouldn't have endeared him all that much to the King of Spain, but then again I'm sure the King of Spain, upon hearing that Henry had divorced Katherine, didn't sit back and say something along the lines of 'she probably deserved it'. Despite Henry having more than just two wives this play focuses only on the transition between Katherine and Anne. The problem with Katherine was that she didn't produce an heir, but the fact that all of the women that he married had the same problem sort of makes me wonder whether the problem didn't rest with his wives, but with him – but then again he was king of England and any suggestion that the king was shooting blanks probably wouldn't go down all that well. Actually, come to think of it, that is probably why poor Anne ended up losing her head. It goes without saying that the events in this play are incredibly significant in the history of England. We all know the story: Katherine wasn't producing an heir (because Henry was shooting blanks) and one day at a party he meets this ravishing young lady named Anne. Anyway, he decided that he wants to get rid of Katherine (through no fault of her own) and marry Anne. However, he can't annul the marriage so instead he goes and asks the Pope for a divorce. The Pope say's no, so Henry throws a tanty and says 'hey, I'm King of England, I don't have to take orders from you' and then proceeds to make himself the head of the church (as you do when you are king and you're not getting your own way). The play itself ends with the baptism of Princess Elizabeth, who goes on to become a pretty competent monarch in her own right. I guess this is Shakespeare's tribute to a woman, and a ruler, who managed to pull England out of the chaos that ensured under the reign of Bloody Mary (the queen, not the drink) and established it as the Protestant nation that we know today. It wasn't as if Elizabeth's reign was easy – it wasn't. She had to deal with Spanish Armadas and internal plots, but then again how many rulers don't have to deal with intrigue – behind every ruler is a person with a knife that wants the job. However, as we see from many of Shakespeare's earlier plays there is a strong message that pretty much says that removing a monarch only brings about disorder and chaos. This is probably why I really didn't like this play. Okay, there was intrigue and political manoeuvrings, but it wasn't anywhere near the complexity as the likes of King Lear or the other history plays. In fact I don't even think anybody dies (though I could be wrong). While one could argue that it is a tragedy of sorts – the tragedy of Katherine of Aragon, it isn't as if she has a fatal flaw that causes the world around her to crash. Rather it is just that she happened to marry some guy that simply couldn't have children, and in those days, especially when your husband is the king, you can't actually accuse him of being the problem, simply because it will mean that he would lose face (and the person with the knife will then make their move). Anyway, I can now say that I have read this play, even though it isn't strictly a Shakespearean play because it is generally accepted that he wrote it in collaboration with some guy named John Fletcher. However, of note, as far as I am aware, the only play that Fletcher has any credit for, and is still performed, is the one he wrote with Shakespeare – this one. In the end, he generally isn't remembered as a playwright but rather the guy that helped Shakespeare write his final play (even though I still consider The Tempest to be Shakespeare's final play).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3: A rare chance to hear Shakespeare's last play, starring Matthew Marsh and Patrick Malahide. Originally recorded to mark the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII. In 1509, the 17-year-old Henry acceded to the throne of England. Shakespeare's play, co-authored with John Fletcher, opens with the arrest for treason of the Duke of Buckingham 12 years later, and tells the story of Henry's struggle to divorce Katherine of Aragon, and the catastrophic fall of the From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3: A rare chance to hear Shakespeare's last play, starring Matthew Marsh and Patrick Malahide. Originally recorded to mark the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII. In 1509, the 17-year-old Henry acceded to the throne of England. Shakespeare's play, co-authored with John Fletcher, opens with the arrest for treason of the Duke of Buckingham 12 years later, and tells the story of Henry's struggle to divorce Katherine of Aragon, and the catastrophic fall of the all-powerful Cardinal Wolsey. Henry VIII ..... Matthew Marsh Queen Katherine ..... Yolanda Vazquez Cardinal Wolsey ..... Patrick Malahide Duke of Norfolk ..... Joseph Mydell Thomas Cranmer ..... Adam Godley Duke of Suffolk ..... Stuart McQuarrie Old Lady ..... Ann Beach Anne Boleyn ..... Donnla Hughes Buckingham/Cromwell ..... Paul Rider Chamberlain/Capuchius ..... Chris Pavlo Abergavenny/Surrey ..... Stephen Critchlow Surveyor/Gardiner ..... Gunnar Cauthery Sands/Campeius ..... Jonathan Tafler Lovell/Griffith ..... Dan Starkey Princess Elizabeth ..... Sonny Crowe Other parts played by Jill Cardo, Robert Lonsdale, Manjeet Mann, Inam Mirza, Malcolm Tierney. Pipe and Tabor played by Bill Tuck Adapted for radio and directed by Jeremy Mortimer First broadcast in April 2009 Known sometimes by the title 'All is True', Shakespeare and Fletcher's rarely performed play is a masterful analysis of the murky world of Tudor politics. A world where nothing can be taken on face value. Wolsey (Patrick Malahide) has control of the key offices of state as both Chancellor and Cardinal of York. Henry (Matthew Marsh) appears to be oblivious to criticism levelled at Wolsey by some of his senior courtiers, and the play opens with the trial and execution of one of Wolsey's most outspoken critics, the Duke of Buckingham. The trial of Katherine of Aragon (Yolanda Vazquez), motivated by Henry's scruple that his marriage to his late brother's wife was unlawful, is one of the most poignant scenes in Shakespeare. Henry is seen to be moved by Katherine's plight, and protests that she is the best of women. Following the divorce, Cardinal Wolsey is the author of his own undoing when he unwittingly reveals to Henry the true extent of his own profit from his position, and that he has been plotting with the Pope to undermine Henry's bid to marry Anne Boleyn. The play finishes with the rise of reformer Thomas Cranmer, and ends with the christening of the young Elizabeth. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00js7zb 4* Antony and Cleopatra 4* A Midsummer Night's Dream 3* Twelfth Night 5* Lenny Henry in Shakespeare's Othello 5* Richard III 3* The Tempest 5* Hamlet 3* Romeo and Juliet 3* As You Like It 5* Macbeth 4* The Taming of the Shrew 4* Julius Caesar 3* The Winter's tale 5* King Lear 4* Henry VI 4* Henry VIII TR The Comedy of Errors About Shakespeare (fiction&non-fiction): 3* Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper 3* Mrs. Shakespeare: The Complete Works by Robert Nye 3* Shakespeare's Local by Pete Brown 4* Shakespeare's Restless World by Neil MacGregor 2* Chasing Shakespeares by Sarah Smith 3* Another Shakespeare by Martyn Wade 4* 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro 4* Molière et Shakespeare by Paul Stapfer 3* A Play for the Heart: The Death of Shakespeare by Nick Warburton

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa J.

    In the school I went, we studied everything related to Spain: Literature, geography, history, etc. I don't live in Spain, nor I am Spanish, but the school has some kind of “pact” (I don't really know how to call it) with Spain, so they teach those things. Why do I say all this? Because in 2012, I studied the story behind this book... but from Spain's point of view. It was interesting to contrast them. Not that they're any different, but it's not the same to listen to a story told by two people in In the school I went, we studied everything related to Spain: Literature, geography, history, etc. I don't live in Spain, nor I am Spanish, but the school has some kind of “pact” (I don't really know how to call it) with Spain, so they teach those things. Why do I say all this? Because in 2012, I studied the story behind this book... but from Spain's point of view. It was interesting to contrast them. Not that they're any different, but it's not the same to listen to a story told by two people in two different sides. To be honest, we didn't study King Henry's life, but that of the wife he got divorced from in this play, that is, Katherine. So well, as the long name of this book says (The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight), this is indeed the story, not of his entire life, but the part that goes from a little before his divorce from Katherine of Aragon to the christening of his daughter Elizabeth. I did enjoy reading this at some points, but I didn't like it as much as the other of Shakespeare's plays I've managed to read so far. It felt dull and flat at some points, but hey! It's Shakespeare! He deserves points for the writing... again. My favorite part was the epilogue. I guess it's not the most important part of the play, but well, I liked it. Tis ten to one this play can never please All that are here: some come to take their ease, And sleep an act or two; but those, we fear, We have frighted with our trumpets; so, 'tis clear, They'll say 'tis naught: others, to hear the city Abused extremely, and to cry 'That's witty!' Which we have not done neither: that, I fear, All the expected good we 're like to hear For this play at this time, is only in The merciful construction of good women; For such a one we show'd 'em: if they smile, And say 'twill do, I know, within a while All the best men are ours; for 'tis ill hap, If they hold when their ladies bid 'em clap. I don't really know why I prefered the epilogue to the rest of the play, though. Anyway, I'll leave it here. Anything I write beyond this point os gonna be rubbish, and I'm good at talking about unnecessary things, so yeah... The end.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Read this play in a day as well, not because I liked it, but it was kind of boring to be honest. I thought I'd like it because I knew who Henry VIII was before hand. However, like most of Shakespeare's Histories they tend to get boring for me and feels like he was forced to right them in a certain why. I will say I didn't realize the play existed until this looking in my book. Clearly this was written after Elizabeth's death.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    Henry VIII, Wolsey, Cramner, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragorn! So much history makes the politics of this play incredibly interesting.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    Chewed through this mainly because I badly sprained my ankle and am stuck in bed, and saw the BBC production of it but could barely follow it and felt vaguely guilty, like I'd slighted Will or something. After reading it and viewing it once again and focusing on the long, detailed critical introduction by Jay L. Halio (which was quite good and hardly at all stiff), what strikes me is not how it's about Henry VIII -- because it isn't, really, just as King John isn't really about that king and Hen Chewed through this mainly because I badly sprained my ankle and am stuck in bed, and saw the BBC production of it but could barely follow it and felt vaguely guilty, like I'd slighted Will or something. After reading it and viewing it once again and focusing on the long, detailed critical introduction by Jay L. Halio (which was quite good and hardly at all stiff), what strikes me is not how it's about Henry VIII -- because it isn't, really, just as King John isn't really about that king and Henry VI is a sort of marginal figure in the three plays which bear his name.....and come to think of it Henry IV isn't really the full focus of the two-parter with his name on it, either. (The two kings who seem to command their respective plays are Richards II and III. The effects of being named Dick rather than Harry are left as an exercise for the reader.) Halio emphasizes the linked way Buckingham, Katherine and Wolsey all foreshadow each other's downfalls, one worst than the next, and the tragic flaw causing it all isn't even really overweening ambition (as Wolsey's fate is presented) but rather the way Henry becomes an increasingly powerful juggernaut who can rid himself of troublesome nobles, his wife, and even the second most powerful man in England. But he remains a shadowy and contradictory figure, motivated not so much by lust (although Shakespeare explicitly makes desire for Anne, rather than worry over succession, his main motive) but the realization that whatever he wants -- Anne, a divorce, telling the Pope to piss up a rope -- he can just take. This exercise of absolute power casts a bit of a shadow over the celebratory joy at Elizabeth's birth which ends the play (IIRC, the Beeb just whacked the Epilogue, not even allowing it to be a VO, as happened to the Prologue). Personally, I went into the play detesting Wolsey and expecting some major fireworks from Anne Boleyn/Bullen, who is one of my favourite figures of that period, but wound up sympathetic to the Cardinal (well, with those fantastic final speeches Will gives him, can you blame me -- "he falls like Lucifer, Never to hope again") and v impressed by Shakespeare's portrayal of Katherine, one of his strongest and most dignified women. However, I just absolutely cannot STAND Henry VIII and this play did nothing to counteract that. People who think that this play glorifies Elizabeth's father are about as clueless as the ones who say that Henry V is a piece of pro-war jingoistic propaganda. I didn't enjoy reading this, exactly, but I'm glad I made the effort and dug into it and especially read the critical matter, which was very helpful. Shakespeare almost always rewards really engaging with the text -- doesn't Woolf call his influence 'fertilizing'? (No no, not like that. Smartasses.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marija

    I was initially surprised Shakespeare wrote this play; I would’ve thought this a dangerous subject, especially since it was practically current history, Elizabeth having been dead only about 10 years after it was penned. After reading it, there is definitely a noticeable conservative element to the writing. The main focus on the play is pageantry, leading up to the birth and christening of Elizabeth. Most of the action takes place off stage. Instead, we’re offered a summation of the events by si I was initially surprised Shakespeare wrote this play; I would’ve thought this a dangerous subject, especially since it was practically current history, Elizabeth having been dead only about 10 years after it was penned. After reading it, there is definitely a noticeable conservative element to the writing. The main focus on the play is pageantry, leading up to the birth and christening of Elizabeth. Most of the action takes place off stage. Instead, we’re offered a summation of the events by side characters who recount what has happened. If you’re expecting drama, sex and intrigue, as in The Tudors series, don’t look for it here. There is a sort of villain in the form of Cardinal Wolsey, but when his villainy gets exposed, he merely gets a smack on the wrist for his grand machinations. It’s rather disappointing. The same goes for the portrayal of Queen Katherine, who’s initially portrayed as a strong woman, readily suspecting Wolsey’s schemes, and actively seeks ways to trip him up. Yet, this image is completely reversed at the end of the play, which depicts a woman completely defeated, seeking solace in death. It’s actually kind of funny how both of these characters—Wolsey and Katherine—regress at the end, both in essence being reduced to tears as they reflect upon all that has passed. The ironic element of this play is the fact that our main character, Henry VIII, doesn’t really have that much to say. He’s mostly used as a tool that gets us to the conclusion. The play essentially is a vehicle to describe Elizabeth’s birth, prophesying how this infant will one day become a queen for the ages.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Read this as a companion piece after I finished Wolf Hall. I didn't even know he wrote a play about Henry VIII, and now I know why: it pretty much sucks. And a total whitewash, which makes sense in retrospect. Where's the fucking beheadings, Will?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diana Long

    I listened to the Arkangel audio of the play along with reading the text from the Delphi Complete Works of William Shakespeare. It is a very subdued play indeed considering how this King's reign turned England upside down. Perhaps the Bard wanted to keep his head attached to his shoulders, that would be my guess. The author goes only so far with this play..the birth of the Princess Elizabeth. What I found most interesting that during one of the performances of the play in 1613, a cannon shot ig I listened to the Arkangel audio of the play along with reading the text from the Delphi Complete Works of William Shakespeare. It is a very subdued play indeed considering how this King's reign turned England upside down. Perhaps the Bard wanted to keep his head attached to his shoulders, that would be my guess. The author goes only so far with this play..the birth of the Princess Elizabeth. What I found most interesting that during one of the performances of the play in 1613, a cannon shot ignited the Globe theatre's thatched roof, burning the original building to the ground (From introduction to play Delphi Complete Works). Although not one of my favorite plays I still found it was excellently performed and entertaining.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    This late play, apparently co-authored with John Fletcher, was first produced during the reign of James I and is essentially a praise of Elizabeth I and her successor. Throughout the work all is continually pointing to her birth and illustrious future, this subtext being linear and unchanging. Within this, however, is the presence of roiling politics, including the rise and fall of important political personages such as Buckingham, Wolsey, and (almost) Cranmer. Recurrent pageantry is the order o This late play, apparently co-authored with John Fletcher, was first produced during the reign of James I and is essentially a praise of Elizabeth I and her successor. Throughout the work all is continually pointing to her birth and illustrious future, this subtext being linear and unchanging. Within this, however, is the presence of roiling politics, including the rise and fall of important political personages such as Buckingham, Wolsey, and (almost) Cranmer. Recurrent pageantry is the order of the day, and long speeches abound. Katherine in particular is portrayed sympathetically. Anne Boleyn is treated gently as the future mother of Elizabeth, and nothing of her downfall is alluded to. Probably the most enjoyable part of this play is the language and eloquence of the long speeches, the parts most certainly written by Shakespeare himself. Amended on 5/13/13: It is hard for me to experience this late Shakespeare play without being influenced by the lenses that Hilary Mantel provides in Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, her first two novels about this period of history and these characters. Henry VIII, originally known as All is True, is thought by many Shakespeare scholars – Stephen Greenblatt, Marjorie Garber, and Harold Bloom, inter alia (although Bloom hedges his bets a little) – to have been co-authored by Shakespeare and John Fletcher. It covers the short period from Henry’s decision to divorce his first wife, Katherine, through the birth of Elizabeth to his second wife, Anne Boleyn. The play is structured rather formally, with recurring sequences of large pageants, short narrative/commentary scenes, and long thoughtful speeches by major characters at critical junctures in their lives. The first half of the work demonstrates the fall of major personages – Buckingham, Katherine, and Wolsey – showing the ends of the trajectories of their careers, in all cases with great poignancy. The second half focuses more on the rising trajectories of the careers of Anne, Cromwell, Cranford, and More, all of whom will themselves fall after this play has ended. Both Buckingham and Katherine are victims who do not deserve their fates, Wolsey, on the other hand, being fully deserving of his fall. All three, and especially the last two, evolve considerably over the course of the play, Katherine most sympathetically, Wolsey more puzzlingly, his final attitude of humility leaving questions about its depth and sincerity. Henry himself is in many ways an enigmatic figure, one whom I view as being still young and not fully formed in terms of who he is and who he will be. He seems ambiguous, not entirely sure of himself, capable of making hard decisions but yet easily led by those around him and by his own desires and appetites, maybe most of all incapable of fully knowing himself. He is far from being the most compelling person in the play. There are other subplots in the work as well, notably the struggle within the Roman Catholic Church and between it and English Protestants. The play ends in a rather conventional and sycophantic way with its flattering of Queen Elizabeth. Yesterday I saw the current Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Henry VIII, directed by Barbara Gaines. It had both strengths and weaknesses. The large pageant aspect was minimized, probably necessary in order to manage the cost and size of the “cast of thousands” that Shakespeare apparently envisioned; this minimization did not detract from the overall effect. Henry’s own ambivalence to events was also underplayed, a disadvantage from my perspective. His erotic attraction to Anne Boleyn, which is but one aspect of his motivation, was – in typical Gaines fashion – (over)emphasized at the expense of his concern about a male heir. And one of the most poignant aspects of the original play, Henry’s fondness and respect for Katherine – demonstrated most sensitively by his addressing her as “Kate” on one occasion – passed so fleetingly and in such understated fashion that its effect was largely lost. The highlight of the production for me was Scott Jaeck’s portrayal of Wolsey. Hateful in his smugness and self-satisfaction until his downfall, his subsequent remorse and humility after his downfall perfectly suggested his own conviction of his “new” state of mind and relationship to God, even as it left a legitimate question in the mind of the observer as to its genuineness beneath the surface of his own consciousness. Gaines did construct an ending that suggested a slight note of irony regarding the too-obvious adulation of Elizabeth, and the play ended in a speechless tableau wherein Anne came on stage to find Henry in the arms of another woman, perhaps Jane Seymour, an effective suggestion that events will continue to be fraught.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carol Bakker

    There is much to appreciate in this play, but it didn't grip me like King Lear did. A few scenes piqued my interest, but the play as a whole seemed sprawled, splayed, and flat. Again, I find it more difficult to assess a play I've only read once. Queen Katharine's (his first wife, whom he divorced) character was winsome in the dignity of her self-defense. She stayed with me longer than any other.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mert Öncel

    3 or 3.5/5 Stars. “Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.” I have mixed feelings about this one. I know it's a history play and it portrays real events. Buuut Shakespeare it was pretty boring. As a standalone book about some king it was okay but compared to Shakespeare's other plays, it would get 1.5 star. However, if you want to learn about Henry VIII, you can read this play instead of reading him about in Wikipedia. “Nor shall this peace sleep with her; but as when The 3 or 3.5/5 Stars. “Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.” I have mixed feelings about this one. I know it's a history play and it portrays real events. Buuut Shakespeare it was pretty boring. As a standalone book about some king it was okay but compared to Shakespeare's other plays, it would get 1.5 star. However, if you want to learn about Henry VIII, you can read this play instead of reading him about in Wikipedia. “Nor shall this peace sleep with her; but as when The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phoenix, Her ashes new-create another heir As great in admiration as herself.” Prologue actually tells us that the events in this play are not something to laugh. They are (mostly) taken directly from history and there are pretty grim stuff in there. I mean it starts with the execution of Buckingham. Cardinal Wolsey (the King's right hand man) throws a party in which the King is invited. Naughty boy Henry dances with Anne Bullen and kisses her. He can do anything since he is the King. There are rumours that Henry and Queen Katherine are not doing okay at the moment. It is true because Henry brought Cardinal Campeius from Rome to get a divorce. (He still needs to be buddies with the Pope) Wolsey supports Henry because Katherine disagrees with him all the time. They got divorced but now there is the problem of Wolsey. He wrote some letters to Pope to denounce Anne. (oops) Henry confronts him and he got nothing to say. Anne is crowned and everyone seem to like her. She gives birth to a babygirl and though Henry is kind of disappointed he still supports her. Now there is the problem of Cranmer and Gardiner but Henry solves it quickly. The babygirl is named Elizabeth(I heard she is going to be a great queen *wink*) and is christened. The End...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kailey (BooksforMKs)

    I enjoyed this play so much! It had a tight plot and delightfully interesting characters. I was especially intrigued with the changes that some characters went through, or the way some of them reacted under extreme circumstances. This is the story of how Henry VIII got rid of his wife, Katherine, and fell in love with Anne Boleyn, married her instead, and had a daughter, Elizabeth. Of course, there's a ton of political intrigue going on, and people being accused as traitors right and left. The Du I enjoyed this play so much! It had a tight plot and delightfully interesting characters. I was especially intrigued with the changes that some characters went through, or the way some of them reacted under extreme circumstances. This is the story of how Henry VIII got rid of his wife, Katherine, and fell in love with Anne Boleyn, married her instead, and had a daughter, Elizabeth. Of course, there's a ton of political intrigue going on, and people being accused as traitors right and left. The Duke of Buckingham goes on trial as a traitor in the first scene, even though he's innocent. Along with a bunch of corrupt Bishops and Cardinals, Cromwell is lurking in the background. There are some really tense and emotional scenes with really powerful dialogue! I loved Queen Katherine for her noble spirit and her gallant manners towards even her enemies. She is never shrewish, but always courteous and kind to everyone even when she is under the most horrible stress. Only once does she openly denounce the terrible Cardinal, and even then she does it with the language of justice and righteousness, not revenge or hatred. She is always saying how humble she is, that she's 'only a woman and unable to speak properly among the educated nobles', but I wonder if these lines aren't delivered sarcastically. She's obviously able to verbally spar with any of those high-born or highly-educated cardinals and bishops and lords. Her best defense is how virtuous her life has been, and she clings to that to the end. With her final breath, she blesses her enemies and forgives them. What a character! I think Queen Katherine is the real hero of the story. She's such a noble person, pure of heart and mind, and humble and kind to everyone. I just love her powerful dialogue! Cardinal Wolsey is so sly and deceptive and horrible! He's greedy and nasty and vengeful. He just lies right to everybody's face, and then goes on with his evil plans! It makes for wonderful drama. It's interesting to me that Wolsey seems to have a change of heart once all his evil shenanigans are exposed. He seems to show true remorse once all is lost, or is it just a case of "I'm sorry that I was caught," not "I'm sorry that I did it"? What a character! I don't know what to think. He does make himself ill with all that remorse though, so maybe he really did repent of his evil ways. Henry VIII himself is just a selfish old dog. He finds all sorts of clever ways to justify his actions and get what he wants. He is definitely a powerful personality and a sharp mind to be reckoned with. Even when he was sweet-talking everyone and making his excuses for bad behavior, I pretty much despised him. At least he stood by some of his friends in the end, instead of believing all the bad rumors about them. Too bad that it was too late for Buckingham. I loved this play!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jimyanni

    The Folger Library Edition, as usual, is a fine edition. The play, "Henry VIII", however, is far from one of the most interesting of Shakespeare's plays; it is not terribly intresting, but it IS terribly un-historical. Clearly, it accomplished what it set out to accomplish, which was to curry favor with Queen Elizabeth I, whose birth is described at the end of the play as if it were almost Messianical, and whose father (the title character) is portrayed throughout the play in the kindest light I The Folger Library Edition, as usual, is a fine edition. The play, "Henry VIII", however, is far from one of the most interesting of Shakespeare's plays; it is not terribly intresting, but it IS terribly un-historical. Clearly, it accomplished what it set out to accomplish, which was to curry favor with Queen Elizabeth I, whose birth is described at the end of the play as if it were almost Messianical, and whose father (the title character) is portrayed throughout the play in the kindest light I have ever seen him portrayed. There is no hint of the drunken glutton, only just the slightest hint of his capriciousness and womanizing, and no mention of the fact that after disowning and divorcing his first wife for Elizabeth's mother, he then went on to divorce and execute her mother, and divorce one other wife and execute another. He is portrayed throughout the play as an honorable man and a good king, even if there is just a hint that his divorce of Katherine for Anne may not have been for quite as high-minded a reason as he claimed. I find this whitewashing of Henry VIII to be rather unappetizing, even if I understand perfectly the reason for it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad Ahmad

    This may be Shakespeare's lowest point. It's less a play than an extended tribute to the Tudor court. Elizabeth's birth is given significance to match the birth of Jesus. The characters are lacklustre, the climaxes underwhelming. In his determination not to cause offence and appease each constituency, Shakespeare May have produced the blandest of his works.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This was a surprisingly light read, as I anticipated it would cover the grim beheadings of King Henry's wives, but it only covered until the birth of Elizabeth and went out with celebration.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Stimpson

    If the epilogue is to serve as a reflection of the theme of the play, then this play is an account of how good women have no control over their destinies. "For this play at this time, is only in/ The merciful construction of good women,/ For such a one we show'd 'em. If they smile,/ And say 'twill do, I know within a while/ All the best men are ours; for 'tis ill hap/ If they hold when their ladies bid 'em clap." Queen Katherine is shown to have nothing but excellent character and qualities. She If the epilogue is to serve as a reflection of the theme of the play, then this play is an account of how good women have no control over their destinies. "For this play at this time, is only in/ The merciful construction of good women,/ For such a one we show'd 'em. If they smile,/ And say 'twill do, I know within a while/ All the best men are ours; for 'tis ill hap/ If they hold when their ladies bid 'em clap." Queen Katherine is shown to have nothing but excellent character and qualities. She tries to stand up for herself in protest against the unfair and unwarranted divorce from King Henry. She sees through the Cardinals' scheming and doesn't trust them long before the King figures it out. And even though she has been wronged by these men, she wishes them nothing but good on her death bed. Anne, before her marriage to the King, declares "By my troth and maidenhead, I would not be a queen." Since her marriage and coronation happen off-stage, we never learn the circumstances, but we can only suspect that she didn't have much choice in the matter. She, like Katherine, is good. That is shown in her pity towards Katherine's treatment. The play ends with the christening of Princess Elizabeth. She, of course, is good in her perfect innocence. But she, too, will not have complete control over her own destiny. In Cranmer's blessing, he predicts, "But she must die./ She must, the Saints must have her, yet a virgin,/ a most unspotted lily shall she pass/ to the ground, and all the world shall mourn her." The women are the tragic heroes of this story. And Shakespeare warns the men in the audience, if your women clap, then you'd better, too.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason Wilson

    Read along with a filmed production. This is a late play and thus skirts delicately round recent history ; Jacobean though it is the infant Elizabeth is revered at the end. Katherine of Aragon gets a strong portrayal as does Anne Boleyn. Shakespeare came from a re us any catholic family but due to the tensions of the time his own views are famously inscrutable ; Thomas More isn’t seen much here though he got his own play, but reformers such as Cromwell and Cranmer are also strongly represented. Read along with a filmed production. This is a late play and thus skirts delicately round recent history ; Jacobean though it is the infant Elizabeth is revered at the end. Katherine of Aragon gets a strong portrayal as does Anne Boleyn. Shakespeare came from a re us any catholic family but due to the tensions of the time his own views are famously inscrutable ; Thomas More isn’t seen much here though he got his own play, but reformers such as Cromwell and Cranmer are also strongly represented. Is the point that there is nobility on both sides of the divide ? Maybe. Wolsey’s tumble from power and redemption through suffering is a familiar Shakespearean character path but its nicely done here. The BBC television Shakespeares are an odd beast. In the late 70sand early 80s it was decided to film all the plays ; this is a creditable venture that would never be done now but the results are mixed. American co production money made the project viable but also imposed a very traditional doublet, hose, declamatory voices and big beards way of doing Shakespeare that was already painfully old fashioned then. It took a while for later directors to gouge some interpretative freedom and there are good efforts from the likes of jonathan Miller and Elijah Mojinsky though some directors have no sense of pace which doesn’t help conjure the excitement that good filmed versions of Hamlet ets should have. Compare for example the DVD of a famous Macbeth with McKellan and Dench with a painfully hammy BBC version......there are some great successes in the run though even so and the histories are among them. This play is very nicely acted indeed despite staid camera work.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I tried to read this play years ago and couldn't get past the first scene. This time around, I picked my way through the excellent introductory essay and read the whole play in slow motion - studiously reading every footnote and reference. Turns out, it's not such a challenging play after all. In this edition, Gordan McMullan has included extensive quotes from the source material (often Holinshed) in the footers. I've never spent so much time comparing large chunks of text in this way; reading b I tried to read this play years ago and couldn't get past the first scene. This time around, I picked my way through the excellent introductory essay and read the whole play in slow motion - studiously reading every footnote and reference. Turns out, it's not such a challenging play after all. In this edition, Gordan McMullan has included extensive quotes from the source material (often Holinshed) in the footers. I've never spent so much time comparing large chunks of text in this way; reading both the play text and the Chronicles, side-by-side, is actually a neat experience. Although brief, some of the scenes in the play may actually qualify as verbatim theater. The plot is rather weak. I suppose a good artistic team could figure out a way to tell a compelling story with this text, but it wouldn't be an easy task.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    It's hard to work out what some of these books are saying to be honest but I got the general gist. Luckily, I am quite well-informed when it comes to Henry VIII because I've watched a few films and documentaries about him. He is also my favourite of the latter-day royals as he was so fascinating. I've also read other books on Elizabeth I and Thomas Cromwell so it straight away put me in good stead. However, if you haven't had these privileges you may struggle and perhaps reading a modern-day boo It's hard to work out what some of these books are saying to be honest but I got the general gist. Luckily, I am quite well-informed when it comes to Henry VIII because I've watched a few films and documentaries about him. He is also my favourite of the latter-day royals as he was so fascinating. I've also read other books on Elizabeth I and Thomas Cromwell so it straight away put me in good stead. However, if you haven't had these privileges you may struggle and perhaps reading a modern-day book about Henry may help. Shakespeare involves Queen Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn (Bullen) in his play along with other famous characters of the day and as it is based on a true account makes it more interesting, especially when you realise that they really did talk like that back in the day, which still intrigues me. Even though I gave it three stars I did enjoy it but felt it would have been more enjoyable if I fully understood the language. A great insight into times past, though.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Elmer

    This play could have been called Katharine of Aragon, because I think she was the real hero of the play. This thoroughly honorable woman was my favorite of all Shakespeare's women I've come across, and her dignity in the face of Henry's betrayal reminded me of Queen Esther. I thought the first four acts were excellent, with many quote-worthy lines, but it felt like the story was given up in the fifth act. I found the ending to be disappointing after such a strong start.

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