Thomas Wolsey - The Rise and Fall by Suzanne Hawkes

We have always loved to support young writers and journalists, so we were delighted to recieve this wonderful review of the recent play by Two Sisters Art Centre, sent in by a local English Literature student, who goes by the mysterious pen-name, “The Eagle Eye in the Audience”. Enjoy the read…
Immediately upon stepping across the threshold of the chosen venue for this particular performance, I found myself appropriately drifting into the realm of sacred grounds, which the aura of the play is founded upon. The Trimley church is an intimate venue, yet can absolutely reflect the vastness and decadence of any Tudor nobility that may happen to wander in with suitable splendor. I definitely could see a multiplicity of reasons for which this venue was chosen!
Following my entrance to the venue I made myself comfortable and could sense that there was a powerful undercurrent brewing beneath the surface presentation of the quiet, drafty concrete that surrounded us. As the lights came down, hundreds of years of history retreated, and I was transported back in time.
At first it was quite daunting. The harsh cries for “George!” boomed from Stephanie Stoddart’s magnificently quippy Margery Cavendish, and from the following lines, the linguistic flair of a modern/Tudor English blend was effectively established. The recipient of this demanding voice, Thomas Haigh’s George Cavendish, already further emphasised what was obvious to me: a strong collation of passionate actors, all carefully curating the vision of the playwright. As the retrospective outlook concluded, Alan Dix’s Robert Wolsey and Steven Roche’s Thomas Cromwell were revealed, along with gradually more striking costumes. These two create a strong stage presence, and together incited chuckles in the audience that could be heard from the very back of the room. Heather Prince’s narrator role binds the scenic changes with a more informal direct address; a nice contrasting complement to the complex and continuously powerful dialogue. As the main actor for the main protagonist entered the stage, it was clear why Phil Cory was cast as Thomas Wolsey. Cory’s stoic conviction juxtaposed with the raging fear of the King below the surface was executed perfectly, and his ability to adjust his performance in relation to the changing time periods written really signifies this.
Act 2 in my view was even more eclectic, and I do not wish to spoil the initial parts of it. Virginia Betts’ hair-raising Elizabeth Barton is something to behold, and was clearly the result of meticulous practice of the playwright’s choreographic decisions. It was even more surprising though, to see the same actor portray Mary Boleyn, a character that could not differ in any greater respects. The jittery, hyperkinetic nature of Barton was replaced with the aristocratic gliding movements of Lady Cary. The sharp, piercing, booming disjunct of the voice of Elizabeth utterly contrasted with the poised and gentle French accent of Mary Boleyn. It was all really impressive.

Last but certainly not least, I must address the wonderful Tudor style musical accompaniment which provided the finishing touches to the convincing period appropriate visuals. Justine De Mierre, who doubles as the silent comic-relief character ‘Patch’, performed Henry VIII’s piece Greensleeves, as well as Pastime with Good Company. This great recorder performance was complemented by Bill Stoddart’s gentle strings, and the vocals in the performance of The Three Ravens was really harmonious. Everything fitted together. The telling of this sad story was incredibly moving and in my view, the playwright’s wishes for this narrative to reach modern audiences and move them was unquestionably achieved.
In case you may miss this stunning production, it is rumored to be returning this October. I highly recommend it.
By The Eagle Eye in the Audience
The Eagle Eye in the Audience has previously won an award for media production, and his current interests include running, astronomy, RC aircraft and travel.  

For more information on Two Sisters Art Centre and upcoming performances, please visit their website: