Extended through May 15
Charles Shaw Robinson (far left) is Cardinal Wolsey, David Ari (center) is Thomas Cromwell, Liz Sklar is Anne Boleyn and Ryan Tasker (far right) is Simpkin in the West Coast premiere of Howard Brenton’s Anne Boleyn at Marin Theatre Company, running through May 8 in Mill Valley. Below: Anne and King Henry VIII (Craig Marker) begin a seven-year courtship leading to their complicated marriage. Photo by Kevin Berne
The relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn – adulterous, adventurous and tragic (for Anne) – has long captivated the public imagination. Their story has been told on the page, on the stage and on screens large and small. There’s been a shift in thinking about Anne, not as a vixen, home wrecker or overzealous climber but as a smart cookie who was more of a power player behind Henry’s throne than we might have thought.
One such exploration can now bee seen on stage at Marin Theatre Company in Anne Boleyn, a 2010 play by Howard Brenton.
I reviewed the production for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s a slice:
There seem to be two reasons motivating this drama, the bulk of which was also depicted in the novel, TV series and stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall.” The first is to serve as a sort of reclamation project for Henry VIII’s second and most famous wife, proving she was a feisty, intelligent person who had a profound effect on English history. The second is to remind the “demons of the future,” as Anne calls us, that ruling power and religion make for a dangerous and disastrous combination.
In this contentious election season, when candidates claim that God (and, apparently, discrimination) is on their side, Brenton’s play, set in the early 16th and 17th centuries, strikes some powerful, resonant notes. One frustrated character, late in the play, laments that what we do in the name of God is usually the same thing we would do in our own self-interest.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Howard Brenton’s Anne Boleyn continues an extended run through May 15 at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. Tickets are$10-$58. Call 415-388-5208 or visit www.marintheatre.org.