Married to Katherine of Aragon, King Henry falls for the charms of Anne Boleyn, the Queen's Maid of Honour. Fortune does not favor Katherine, nor Henry's advisor, Cardinal Wolsey, who is resented by England's lords. As Wolsey schemes for power, he suffers his tragic fall in this history written at the end of Shakespeare's dramatic career.
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by William Shakespeare
by William Shakespeare, SmartPass Ltd.
"[Editor's Note: The following is a combined review with LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST and THE WINTER'S TALE.]--Two of these productions in the Arkangel series are good, and the third is truly exceptional. LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST concerns ascetic and naive young men who renounce the company of women only to meet their perfect mates soon after. Alex Jennings and Emma Fielding are superior as the lovers Berowne and Rosaline. The satire of courtiers and fops is also handled well, though ongoing wordplay is something of an acquired taste. The only lapse is the intrusive sound effects in outdoor scenes (flies buzzing, birds chirping). The fine production of HENRY VIII, about the king's effort to marry Anne Boleyn, infuses much more life into this stately, pageant-like play than one might expect from the text. Clive Brill, who directs the entire series, orchestrates a lifelike sound design that even includes the murmurs of agreement or dismay of listening characters. These undertones function like reaction shots in a movie. In HENRY VIII, they clarify the various court factions and intrigues. In THE WINTER'S TALE, Shakespeare's late romance about jealousy and time's restorative power, they add subtlety to an emotionally charged production. The voices in this recording are richly infused with personality, especially those of John Gielgud and Alex Jennings, who is a comic triumph as the rogue Autolycus. Gielgud performs the 32-line part of Time the Chorus, and his age-enfeebled voice resonates hauntingly. Clive Brill and his cast show why THE WINTER'S TALE has such an impressive stage history in as fine a recording of Shakespeare as you're likely to encounter. G.H. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine"
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