(Dominic Maxwell’s article appeared in the Times of London, 5/26.)
The last time Henry VIII played at the Globe was in 1613, when the production’s cannon shot burnt the place to the ground. But it’s not just a fear of getting burnt again that has kept the new Globe from producing Shakespeare’s late history play until now. Co-written with John Fletcher, it’s a sprawling tale in which Henry himself is largely obscured by the web of political intrigue that is spun around him. If it’s not had a major revival since Greg Doran’s RSC production in 1996, that’s because, frankly, it’s no Hamlet. It sprawls, it circumnavigates, it gets bogged down.
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