Ben Miles has been marvellous within the lead position, rising in stature as Cromwell himself grew from a Putney blacksmith’s son to turn out to be Henry VIII’s most trusted fixer. Following the departure of Mike Poulton, the playwright who did such job on the primary two, Mantel and Miles determined to put in writing the third play themselves. Massive mistake.
Fantastic novelist although she is, Mantel isn’t any playwright; and neither is Miles, tremendous actor although he’s.
Doubts set in early when a collection of a number of brief scenes journey over one another in a rush to inform an admittedly lengthy and complicated story.
The play opens with Cromwell imprisoned within the Tower after which flashbacks to inform how he fell from the King’s favour. It comes throughout extra like a film screenplay than a crafted piece of theatre.
Jeremy Herrin’s course doesn’t assist in any respect. Characters (and there are numerous of them) come on and declaim to the viewers in quaint barnstorming type moderately than to one another. There may be little sense of intimacy or closeted peril.
Miles and Nathaniel Parker as Henry VIII present their characters’ age with the same old tropes ‑ a limp for Henry, a headful of gray hair for Cromwell ‑ however its superficial stuff. There’s a disconcerting use of comedian double takes and reactions which might be wholly inappropriate for the fabric.
Nicholas Woodeson performs Cromwell’s nemesis the Duke of Norfolk as a harmful, ageing imp and Leo Wan is suitably reptilian as Richard Riche however there are some lamentably uncontrolled performances.
And to have the ghost of Cardinal Wolsey (Tony Turner) prancing throughout the stage as if in some Afterlife discotheque is simply plain foolish. Somebody’s been watching an excessive amount of Blackadder.
The Mirror and the Gentle is on the Gielgud Theatre till January 23 2022
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