Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, are about to be adapted for the theatre with intertwining productions at London’s Aldwych Theatre. Opening in May 2014, the twin productions will look to bring the early reign of King Henry VIII and the building power base of his eventual right hand man, Thomas Cromwell, to life on the Lindon stage.
The productions start out with Wolf Hall on the 1st May 2014, which will run for three consecutive nights before it switches over to Bring Up The Bodies on the 7th May. The the two plays will them run one on one off throughout the summer with both shows playing on the same day with the addition of the Wednesday and Saturday matinees until they close on the 6th September, with the final back to back production.
It’s a very ambitious plan for the production with the sheer weight of Hilary Mantel’s two massive tomes to cover in one combined run at the Alwych Theatre. With both novels picking up the Booker Prize there will be a lot of expectation for the theatre adaptation to live up to, but with strong reviews for it’s earlier run in Stratford-Upon-Haven, it looks likely that it will be another big win for Mike Poulton’s adaptation.
Set in England between 1500 and 1535, Wolf Hall charts the rise of Thomas Cromwell from his rough past to his rise to becoming the second most powerful man in Britain as the King’s number one confident. Retelling the intrigue of Tudor court politics as the King flexes his power base and brushes aside his links to Rome in a bid to divorce Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn in a bid to secure an heir to his throne. Find out more about the book with our Wolf Hall review.
Bring Up The Bodies continue the story of Cromwell and Henry VIII as the King’s hope for a male heir falter with Anne and he turns instead to the more retiring presence of Jane Seymour. With Cromwell once again charged with making the King’s every wish a reality, it’s back to the cauldron of British politics and the potential backlash from the Roman Catholic Church and the rest of the European powers.
Ticket prices range from a very reasonable £10 to the more expensive seats at £25, £32.50, £37.50, £45 and£59, as well as premium seats at £90, but there’s a £1.25 restoration levy to take into account too. The evening productions starting at 7:30pm and the matinee performances opening at 2pm. The run time for both performances is 2 hours and fifty minutes, so you really get your money’s worth.
Mike Poulton’s adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies will once again be directed by Jeremy Herrin, following the success of the run at Stratford-Upon-Haven. There’s clearly a lot to pack into the productions, including the reformation of the British churches and monasteries, the demise of Cardinal Wolsey and the first few steps if divorced, beheaded died; divorced, beheaded, survived, but for anyone brave enough to take on both plays on the same day it’ll be a memorably epic effort.