But the trip was centered around the interests of my recently engaged niece Jennifer, which meant lots of churches and palaces, plus a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s new exhibit “Wedding Dresses 1775 to 2014”—but only one night of theater.
The program (which, as always, you have to pay for in London) helpfully organizes the characters according to their allegiances but it may still be hard to keep track of who’s who if you’re not well versed with the tale, particularly since some actors play multiple parts and so many of the male courtiers are named Thomas.
And that's not even counting my viewing of all the works about Henry and Anne Boleyn's daughter, who would grow up to be Elizabeth I, including the Glenda Jackson TV series from the '70s, the Cate Blanchett films and the terrific 2009 Broadway revival of Mary Stuart with Harriet Walter as Elizabeth and Janet McTeer as her rival Mary, Queen of Scots.
So watching Bringing Up the Bodies made me feel the way you do when your aunt once again brings out the family album: it's nice to see the old familiar faces but at this point you want to be told something new about them. And as well staged as this show is, it fails to do that.
Ben Miles has been praised for his portrayal of Cromwell and I enjoyed his performance but I couldn’t help wishing that the role had been played by a more intense actor like Simon Russell Beale, Benedict Cumberbatch or Mark Rylance, who just finished filming a six-part TV series based on Mantel’s first book “Wulf Hall” that is scheduled to air next year.