Director Vince Petronio has his hands full with Epic Theatre’s final production of the season…and he pulls off a clever, overpowering production of Hillary Mantel’s Tudor drama, “Wolf Hall.”
If you remember your British history, or if you caught the miniseries on TV, you’ll have an easier time getting into the two-act, two-hour story of the manipulative Thomas Cromwell (Kevin Broccoli) and his rise to power as right-hand man (or is that left-hand man?) to King Henry VIII (Geoff Leatham).
You’ll meet up with familiar historical characters Cardinal Wolsey (EricBehr), Queen Catherine (Paula Faber), Anne Boleyn (Kerry Giorgi), Sir Thomas Moore (Kathleen Povar) and many more, including the mysterious Jane Seymour (Angelique Dina).
Petronio not only has over two dozen actors to direct, he has to keep the flow going with 30 scenes, setting the play in a small space with the audience on two sides (a technique seen a number of times this year at local theatres).
You’ll remember some of the facts. The king wants to divorce his wife, who fails to give him a son (her fault, of course). He then wants to marry Anne Boleyn. There are many obstacles to overcome. The Catholic Church doesn’t approve is the big one.
Broccoli is great as the manipulating, conniving, downright sneaky Cromwell, who changes allegiances from the Cardinal to the King and rises from a poor blacksmith’s son to the number one wheeler-dealer in England.
There are no weak spots in this overwhelming production. By the beginning of the second act, you’ll have a good handle on who is who, thanks to Mike Poulton’s adaptation of Mantel’s novel, sharp direction, and a cast that works well together.
Broccoli reminds us that there are many similarities to the days of Henry VIII and what is happening in our political system today.
“Wolf Hall” is at Epic Theatre’s home at Artist’s Exchange, Theatre 82, 82 Rolfe St. in Cranston through June 23. Tickets are $20. Go online at www.artists-exchange.org for information and reservations.