Review: Fallen in Love @ Tower of London

There have been many film and television adaptations and books that focus on the life of Anne Boleyn. Showtime’s historically inaccurate and sexually charged The Tudors is one such case where viewers best pretend that the characters were not real people in British history.

One of the central arguments over Anne Boleyn’s execution is the unfair accusation of witchcraft, incest and adultery. Some say she did or almost did commit incest as seen in the Other Boleyn Girl whilst historians call the charges against Boleyn a desperate call from Henry VIII to be rid of Anne Boleyn.

With the many different versions of events that can be found, one can be forgiven for getting history wrong.  With all of these errors in place, how does one make a theatre production that gets it right?

Joanna Carrick’s Fallen in Love does so by stripping away the usual rules that come with putting on a historical theatre production. There are only two people on stage the entire time leaving you feeling the intimate nature of the relationship between brother and sister.  You see no-one else; hear no-one else and think about no-one else. The costumes are realistic, the dancing spot on and the actors engaging and mesmerising.

Independent theatre company Red Rose Chain’s choice for the play’s location is not short of brilliant. Staged in the banqueting hall of the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn famously spent the last days of her life, the play starts with Anne and George Boleyn as carefree teenagers thus setting the tone for the rest of the play which is a timeline from 1520 to their death in 1536.

Carrick showed her ability to invoke laughter when only a few moments before you were uncomfortably watching Anne Boleyn kiss her brother in the same fashion a young lover kisses her beau and keep you laughing throughout the production.

An engaging play is not without engaging actors. Emma Connell as Anne Boleyn is thoroughly believable, powerfully assertive and charming. With every raise of her voice comes an eyebrow raise and slight flinch that puts weight on the description of Anne Boleyn as a strong woman at a time when women were not so strong. Scott Ellis’s brilliant George Boleyn is funny, emotive and authentic and touching until the end. Both actors’ energy and presence truly bring you into the play. The heaviness of the roles could make even the best actors become hammy and tiresome but the success of the play is due to the right balance of fantastic script writing, accurate casting and the always necessary historical accuracy.

 

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