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Catherine Howard
by Beverley Cross
The Mitre Theatre, Croydon
21st to 23rd October 2010
Directed by Tony Rapps

Please use THIS LINK to view the photographs
 
Henry VIII's fifth wife got a pretty rum deal.undefined

Bribed and flatterd into marriage with an ailing king who turned out not to be her up of tea, Catherine Howard fell for a dashing young courtier. This affair, plus previous indiscretions, put an end to her marriage and her life when she was barely out of her teens.

Beverley Cross, who who wote the original screenplay of Catherine Howard for the BBC series the Six Wives of Henry VIII, later adapted the piece for theatre and this production worked well.

Smooth transitions from scene to scene were achieved using a simple set of draped entrances and a series of acting areas. Atmospheric lighting moved us swiftly from the corridors of power to the royal bedchamber and other locations although tight acting areas, at times, seemed to inhibit the natural movement of the players. Using the expanse of the stage to greater effect would have helped engage the audience earlier in what is a well-written, but wordy play.

Director Tony Rapps was well served by his cast with Megan Harries-Rees spot on with her portrayal of Catherine, capturing her vulnerability, naivety, innocence and excitement in equal measure. She dazzled in some splendid Tudor gowns and her expressive face carried the audience with her throughout until her final moments.

Alan Merricks as Henry avoided any hint of caricature, conveying Henry's frustration, lust and resignation at yet another wife's betrayal. Fraser Macdonald gave a highly intelligent and thoughtful performance in the pivotal role of the devious Duke of Norfolk while Simon Long, as the young courtier who gets entangled in the Queen's need for love did what he could with a rather bland part, making the most of his final scene.

Experienced support came from Julie Cumbo as the Dowager Duchess, Julia Gibbs as Queen's confidante, Lady Rochford, and Ian Brown as Dereham with Andy Holton offering a unique take on the King's Fool and the ubiquitous Mr.Marriott neatly juggling two cameo roles.

 

Lesley Bates.    Croydon Advertiser.    5th November 2010

October 2010
Directed by Tony Rapps
 

 CAST LIST 

 

Catherine Howard                                    Megan Harries-Rees
Henry VIII                                                    Alan Merricks
D
uke of Norfolk                                        Fraser Macdonald
Lady Rochford                                            Julia Gibbs
Anne  Carey                                                 Saskia Jiggens
Dowager Duchess of Norfolk               Julie Cumbo
Will Somers                                                Andy Holton
Ambassador                                                 Charles Marriott
Francis Dereham                                         Ian Brown
Surgeon                                                         Charles Marriott

Stanton                                                        Dave Price

Thomas Culpeper                                        Simon Long

Lady in Waiting  1                                                Jane Kortlandt
Lady in Waiting  2                                      Mary Holton

Yeoman of the Guard 1                            John Bartle

Yeoman of the Guard 2                           Alex Greenslade