This is a play that follows the fate of Anne Boleyn and her brother George from the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 to their executions for treason in 1536. Written by Joanna Carrick and presented by the Red Rose Chain Theatre Company.
After hearing so many good things about this play I was really looking forward to seeing it. A lot has been written about Anne’s relationship with Henry, but relatively little about her relationship with her brother. I was intrigued to see how Carrick would interpret this relationship, and whether she would even give some credit to the incest accusations. Arriving at the Tower of London to see this play was truly amazing. Not only are you in wonderful surroundings you are in the place where Anne spent her final days. I must admit as I arrived I felt excitement tinged with nervousness – what if it didn’t live up to my expectations?
From the first moment I walked into the New Armoury, where it is staged I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. The room is set with a wooden bed at the centre surrounded on four sides by just three rows of seats. There cannot be more than one hundred people watching and you can walk right through the stage – this gives it a real sense of intimacy before it has even begun.
This intimacy prevails as the two actors arrive on set. The performances by Emma Connell and Scott Ellis are mesmerizing as Anne and George Boleyn. The story of their rise to greatness and subsequent fall is told through a series of personal conversations, at historically important moments, between the siblings. Carrick does not underestimate her audience by the over-explanation of these references, which would have made talk stilted and unrealistic. Rather they appear completely naturally, and Anne and George’s discussion relates mainly to their own interests. The actors create a beautifully close, loving and realistic brother and sister relationship. There is a real chemistry between Anne and George, coming from their shared history, humour, ambition and love for each other – but also giving the audience an insight into how the incest charges may have arisen.
There is a huge amount of intimacy between the two actors and between them and the audience. There are many times in the play where they are standing so close to you, that you could reach your hand out and touch them. The fact that just two actors are able to convey such an intricate historical story and that they stir such a variety of emotion in the audience is a testament both to their acting and to Carrick’s writing. The reason this play works so well is that they are believable – it is not overacted, or played too seriously but is human and humorous, touching and moving.
I would hugely recommend ‘Fallen in Love’ and the experience of watching it in such wonderful surroundings!