Entertainment » Theatre

Wolf Hall

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jun 12, 2018
Kevin Broccoli and Lynne Collinson in "Wolf Hall" through June 23 at the Epic Theatre Company.
Kevin Broccoli and Lynne Collinson in "Wolf Hall" through June 23 at the Epic Theatre Company.  

Without a doubt, "Wolf Hall" is Epic Theater Company's most ambitious and compelling production of the year; a grim depiction of English history with terrific performances from a large ensemble cast and expert direction by Vince Petronio.

"Wolf Hall" is based on a novel by Hilary Mantel and was adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton. It is a history lesson leavened with some tongue in cheek humor.

Geoff Leatham is mesmerizing as King Henry VIII, who is unhappily married to Queen Katherine and desperately seeks a male heir to inherit his throne.

Leatham gave a fantastic impersonation of President Richard Nixon in a production of "Frost/Nixon" a few years ago, and provides the same feeling of overpowering authority here.

Much of the plot focuses on Henry's plans to annul his marriage to Katherine and marry Anne Boleyn in the hopes she will provide him with a son. Love has nothing to do with his decision.

Kerry Giorgi in "Wolf Hall."  

Political junkies will see parallels between the intrigues happening in the House of Tudor with the machinations and power plays occurring in the White House today.

The venality, arrogance, and contempt for other's feelings exhibited by Henry and especially Anne are a mirror of the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Henry subjects the women in his life to degradation and feels no remorse. His determination to produce a male heir consumes his daily existence.

In the end, Henry, as well as the others, don't really get what they want, after having caused endless misery. It's tragic but darkly funny at the same time.

Another despicable figure in "Wolf Hall" is the vile Cardinal Wolsey (well-played by Eric Behr), an abusive tyrant who wields tremendous power in the Catholic Church.

Wolsey falls out of favor with Henry when he is unable to arrange an annulment of his marriage to Katherine and is stripped of his government titles.

Thomas Cromwell, Henry's wily and arrogant chief minister, gains power and forces Katherine to flee the country.

Kevin Broccoli portrays Cromwell as a deeply cynical man who is unswervingly loyal to his King. Cromwell also specializes in wry observations, which are amusing due to Broccoli's laconic delivery.

Paula Faber has some powerful moments as Katherine, who is deeply wounded by Henry's rejection. Katherine notes she is the real Queen and doubts anyone could ever accept Anne Boleyn as their monarch.

Kerry Giorgi is also effective as Anne, a ruthless and self-centered woman who is determined to push Katherine out of the way so she can have Henry as her husband.

Georgi conveys a deep anger at this woman's core, which is fascinating to watch.

Other standouts include Christopher Crider-Plonka as Cromwell's friend Rafe, Kathleen Povar as Sir Thomas Moore, Rico Lanni as Harry Percy, Christine Pavao (seen most recently in Head Trick Theatre's "Gabriel") as Sir Henry Norris, Angelique Dina as Jane Seymour, and Geoff White as the Duke of Suffolk.

"Wolf Hall" is a perfect capper to an excellent season of shows by Epic Theatre Company.

"Wolf Hall" runs through June 23. Epic Theatre Company. Theatre 82. 82 Rolfe Square, Cranston. www.artists-exchange.org www.epictheatreri.org.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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