May/June 2010

Katherine Howard
by William Nicholson


Directed by
Karen Ashton


Gripping take on history
Michael Gray

Engrossing entertainment
Braintree & Witham Times


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KATHERINE HOWARD is an historical drama that takes place in the royal palace from 6th January 1540 to 13th February 1542.

Opening on the wedding night of Henry VIII and his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, and closing with the execution of his fifth wife, Katherine Howard, found guilty of adultery, William Nicholson's play takes a slice of Tudor history and turns it into pure theatrical magic. A touching May-to-September romance; political intrigue, plots and betrayals; a pointed and sometimes comic portrayal of women's lives in Tudor times: all these, and more, are elements of this entertaining, thoughtful and intelligent play from the author of Shadowlands.



It is the morning after King Henry and Queen Anne's wedding night.  Henry is in a bad temper and asks Thomas Culpeper to help him out of bed.



Henry asks his Privy Councellors, Archbishop Cranmer, the Duke of Norfolk and Sir Thomas Wriothesley to get him out of his marriage.



Norfolk spots an opportunity to advance himself and his family by manipulating his niece Katherine Howard into becoming queen.



Lady Rochford instructs Katherine in the ways of captivating the king, dressing her in an alluring gown.



Henry falls for Katherine, woos her and finally kisses her.




Norfolk informs Queen Anne that the convocation of bishops has pronounced her marriage null and void but that she is now the king's "sister" with a grant of property and money.



Thomas and Katherine realise that she will be queen and that they can never be together.



As the curtain closes, the court assembles around Henry and Katherine as she prepares to be queen.



Cranmer and Wriothesley realise that Norfolk has outsmarted them and plot to undermine the marriage.  They question Mrs Halls who knew Katherine before she came to court.



Mrs Halls relates how Katherine's tutor came to her bedroom one night and describes the "married breathing" sounds that came from the room.



Cranmer accuses Lady Rochford of neglecting her duty to the king and tricks her into revealing that Culpeper has visited the queen in her bedchamber.


Katherine has given Lady Rochford a ring that Culpeper gave her as a token of his affection for her.  Lady Rochford gives it to Cranmer hoping to save her skin.



Norfolk and Cranmer arrest Culpeper and interrogate him.  He finally confesses when he sees they have his ring.



Henry confronts Katherine with what he has learnt.  She tells him that she loves both him and Culpeper.  The king says that the law must take its course.



Katherine is tried for adultery together with Culpeper and Lady Rochford for their part in it.  All are sentenced to death.



After Katherine's execution, Henry reflects on how he had loved her, how his heart was broken and how the darkness had fallen about him.

Cast

KING HENRY VIII:
KATHERINE HOWARD:
THOMAS CULPEPER:
ANNE OF CLEVES:
THOMAS HOWARD, DUKE OF NORFOLK:
THOMAS CRANMER:
LADY JANE ROCHFORD:
SIR THOMAS WRIOTHESLEY:
MRS MARY HALLS:
CAPTAIN OF THE KING’S GUARD:
LADIES IN WAITING:
GUARDS:
PAGES:
      Chris Kearney
      Debbie Lee Tomson
      Adam Thompson
      Lynda Shelverton
      Peter Nicholson
      James Rawes
      Diana Bradley
      Adrian Hoodless
      Amanda Thompson
      Adrian Hoodless
      June Roper and Carole Stanton
      Ken Davies and Mike Longman
      Meredith Thompson
       and Morgan Thompson