In the programme, the Globe's artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, notes the lack of good quality touring drama for bigger venues. It is indeed a rare treat to see a company of 22 fill the large stage of the Festival Theatre in a straight play. I am happy to report that the quality is there on show too in Howard Brenton's vivid imagining of the life of the staunch Protestant Anne, who comes to haunt James I., the King formerly known as James VI of Scotland.
John Dove's intelligent and nimble production is enhanced by a slew of notable performances. Jo Hebert's Anne is strong, determined and bright and David Sturzaker's Henry is clever and virile. James Garnon is splendid as the hyperactive, cross-dressing,wise fool, James I. There are equally strong performances from Julius D'Silva as a chilling Thomas Cromwell ( Peter Mandelson crossed with The Master from Doctor Who) and Colin Hurley as Wolsey, whose scarlet gloves conceal the sharp claws beneath. The ensemble is filled with thoughtful and strong portrayals of the various historical figures in the lives of Anne and James.
One surprising aspect of the large and appreciative mid -week matinee audience was the lack of school parties. If you are going to turn kids on to history, a production like this would seem ideal. Brenton's play is large scale in production terms but also in ideas - irreverant, illuminating and enormouly entertaining.