Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

Anne of the Thousand Days
by Maxwell Anderson   directed by Colin Lawrence

Robinson Theatre, Cambridge, October 1992

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A Review of Anne of the Thousand Days
by Frances Bartram

This was a very challenging production to undertake, especially with the job of presenting well-known historical figures with truth.  Here the figures and scenes were completely believable and had been presented in such a way as to make the audience feel they were eavesdropping and actually "sitting in" on Henry's Court.  A tremendous achievement by director and cast.

This was complemented by the set.  The colour was stunning and the design full of interest.  The various heights achieved helped to focus scenes and keep the easy flow which was so essential to the short scenes of this play.

Costumes, however, were a mixed bag; some perfect in every detail and worn with distinction, others merely adequate.  Anne's first costume disappointing detracting from, rather than adding to, personality and looks.  Henry's costumes were outstanding in every detail.

Character development had been well-studied; no-one better than Cromwell who opened as a snide sneaky and cowardly man, gradually becoming commanding, arrogant and bullying character we know from history.  A great piece of acting.  Henry looked perfect with a very good voice and movement for this well-known figure.  His changing moods and variations of voice kept one interested throughout.  Here was Henry VIII.  I did wonder if maybe somewhere we could have seen a little of his 'nasty' side, but then, was there an opportunity for this in the text?
Anne was a very good foil and together they worked well, adding pace and interest.  A lovely ease of movement here and confident presentation.  But I would have liked to have heard a lot more variation of voice to bring out the true personality of this character who commanded such devotion from Henry.  Outstanding and utterly convincing was the Cardinal, adding belief and atmosphere to every scene he was in; the broken figure at the end drawing great pathos.  Elizabeth Boleyn was another believable and atmospheric character adding to every scene she was in, as did the rest of the cast, fitting easily into the period and their various characters with excellent grouping and always maintaining the interest of the audience.

The criticism I would have of this production, where so much attention had been paid to period, movement, relationships and atmosphere, concerns the musicians and singers involved.  Although playing and signing beautifully, they detracted so much from the scenes they were in.  No deference to the king, and costumes worn as if in the 1990s, thereby destroying the atmosphere the cast had worked so hard to maintain. This was a production to remember: an entertaining and successful venture.