Henry VIII

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


Perhaps some excisions were needed. Certainly the Prologue’s promise of “two short hours” should have been omitted from a production that ran over three… Four stories … emerge from this confusion of plenty… A fifth story that of Archbishop Cranmer, is introduced after the first two and one-half hours of this production. Despite the excellence of the actor (Durward McDonald), interest is hard to come by. Scott Porter, as the intemperate Duke of Buckingham, was heroic, especially in taking leave of his followers and going to his death. Mary Ed Porter… reached moments of intensity and pathos with an eloquence of speaking and moving and facial miming which challenged anything I have seen in many years of this festival As Wolsey, Cal Winn began as a demonic Friar Tuck, reached great dignity immediately after he was physically and verbally abused… and ended, in the scene with Cromwell, abjectly maudlin. David Adamson’s Holbeinish Henry was totally, but never excessively, successful… Adamson did it all so easily and so well The rest of the cast played as well as they should—they are exceptionally talented… Allen Nause’s stability as Norfolk put things together; Robin Johnson, as Sands, played with vulgar gaiety; Sidney Hibbert … as Cardinal Campeius, was all insidious grace; Sarah Albertson’s Anne Bullen was a creature (that is the word) of beauty. This was James Edmondson’s first time as a Festival director. It will not be his last. Total command of the play and of his actors resulted in a very deserved success. He knows most of the tricks, and he also knows when not to use them. Thomas Schmunk designed the most elaborate and beautiful costumes that I have seen worn in any of the cycle of Histories. It used to be that credit for “Scenic Design” was tacitly left to nature… But I must admit that the tasteful set pieces… were far less offensive than the endless swirl of banners which have too often been used—in the manner of halftime football gyrations—to provide visual wonder. The sound reproduction was atrocious! (J. H. Crouch, Shakespeare Quarterly 22 [1971]: 381–82)


Opening Date Festival Director Intelligent Performance Henry VIII Difficult Text 
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© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

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