A Man for All Seasons

A Man for All Seasons is a 1960 play adapted by playwright Robert Bolt from his earlier radio play. It was later made into an Oscar-winning movie. I’ve actually been curious about this play for years, ever since my history teacher mentioned it during A Level History (we were studying the Tudors). Recently, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies have offered a different interpretation of similar events, so I was even more interested in seeing this play.

The work is about Sir Thomas More, the lawyer and statesman executed for refusing to support Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. Bolt’s More is a man of faith and principle, with a lawyer’s sharp mind and a shrewd ability to size up the situation. His personality is contrasted with the complacent, satisfied Cardinal Wolsey, and the slippery and unprincipled Thomas Cromwell – very different from Mantel’s later portrayal.

This production by the Mitre Players in Croydon is ostensibly an amateur one but compares very favourably with many professional productions I have seen. Warwick Jones is particularly superb as More, while Paul Grace is also impressive as the ‘Common Man’ who in the guise of various servants, innkeepers and gaolers offers a running commentary on events. I’m glad I finally got a chance to see this play, and pleased that it was in such a good production.

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