Thomas Cromwell. Son of a blacksmith, political genius, briber, charmer, bully. A man with a deadly expertise in manipulating people and events.
Mike Poulton’s ‘expertly adapted’ (Evening Standard) two-part ad adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies is a ‘gripping piece of narrative theatre ? history made manifest’ (Guardian). The plays were premiered to great acclaim by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2013, before transferring to the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End in May 2014.
Wolf Hall begins in England in 1527. Henry has been King for almost twenty years and is desperate for a male heir; but Cardinal Wolsey is unable to deliver the divorce he craves. Yet for a man with the right talents this crisis could be an opportunity. Thomas Cromwell is a commoner who has risen in Wolsey’s household – and he will stop at nothing to secure the King’s desires and advance his own ambitions.
In Bring Up the Bodies, the volatile Anne Boleyn is now Queen, her career seemingly entwined with that of Cromwell. But when the King begins to fall in love with self-effacing Jane Seymour, the ever-pragmatic Cromwell must negotiate within an increasingly perilous Court to satisfy Henry, defend the nation and, above all, to secure his own rise in the world.
Hilary Mantel’s novels are the most formidable literary achievements of recent times, both recipients of the Man Booker Prize.