The 12 Plays of Christmas – Day 11 – Henry VIII

Welcome to the 11th Play of Christmas.  Today we shall look at Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII”.

Unusually, “Henry VIII” isn’t performed that often, which is a sad thing because it is a great play.  Following the story of Henry VIII through the end of his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon and his second marriage to Ann Boleyn.  The actual story is gripping, and adding the drama of a play to it, well, that makes it even better.

Act I Scene 2 makes a particularly interesting scene to play- with the Queen kneeling talking of taxes on the people, that Henry may not have been responsible for, but they are in his name.  And it ends with Henry deciding that Buckingham is a traitor and should die.  This scene would work well with a strong male, strong female actor… and to work well with those less experienced in supporting roles.  It is also a play that would be easy to stage somewhat authentically.  Most local theatre hire places have a convincing Henry VIII costume, and most will lend these to schools or community groups for performances.

The coolest thing about this play is the fact that the cannons fired in the performance of it burned down the Globe Theatre.  (I won a hat for that once).


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