Wolf Hall  
Wolf Hall

by Hilary Mantel, adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton

Directed by Dan Usztan

Monday 13th - Friday 17th August, 2018

The Tower Theatre performing at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall

Photography by Lynn Batten of the Minack Theatre and Laurence Tuerk

Cast List

Henry VIII : Martin Mulgrew
Stephen Gardiner/Eustace Chapuys : Will Howells
Thomas Cromwell : Dickon Farmar
Cardinal Wolsey : Adam Sutcliffe
Wolsey's Servant/French Ambassador : Michael Mayne
Mark Smeaton : Joe Lewis
Rafe Sadler/Harry Percy : Samuel Currie-Smith
Liz Cromwell : Jessica Hammett
Christophe/Francis Weston : Adam Hampton-Matthews
Thomas More : Julian Farrance
Thomas Boleyn : Jonathan Norris
Jane Rochford/Princess Mary : Bryony Purdue
Anne Boleyn : Sophie King
Katherine of Aragon : Helen McCormack
Gregory Cromwell/William Brereton : David Miller
Duke of Suffolk : Grant Campbell
Thomas Wyatt : Murray Deans
Duke of Norfolk : John Chapman
Sir Henry Norris : Guyene Muneesamy
Mary Boleyn : Emily Grimson
Jane Seymour : Sarah McCarthy
George Boleyn : Jon Foster
Archbishop Warham : Alistair Maydon
Thomas Cranmer : Paul Isaacs

Other parts played by members of the company


Production Team

Director : Dan Usztan
Costume Design : Haidee Elise
Lighting Design : Stephen Ley
Sound Design : Rob Ellis
Movement Director : Jack Murphy

Stage Manager : Dinah Irvine
ASMs : Alison Liney, Ruth Sanderson
Props Co-Ordinator : Michelle Roebuck
Sound Operator : Penny Tuerk
Lighting Operator : Laurence Tuerk
Costume Assistance : Jude Chalk, Lynda Twidale, Dinah Irvine, Michelle Roebuck, Jessica Hammett
Rehearsal Prompt : Lesley Pearson
Front of House and Production Support : Bev Maydon, David Holyoake, Beryl Holyoake, Peter Westbury, Jeff Kelly, Val Whitehouse, John Dansey, Jude Chalk, Sarah Mulgrew, Jacob Cameron, Haidee Elise, Jacqui Dickson, Ann Watchorn, Lesley Scarth, Nick Insley, Isaac Insley, Roanne Insley, Eliza Insley, Stephen Brasher, Sarah Ambrose

Review by Jenni Balow

The imperious Court of King Henry VIII clap their hands in unison to command our attention from the outset, as thunder rolls and trumpets herald the entrance of regally-clad characters who stride onto the stage to enact a story of historic intrigue that has fascinated us for centuries.

These are the early years of the 16th century, and Henry is desperate to produce a male heir, and will more or less move heaven and earth to try to do it, with the help of a man who was to become renowned for his "vigorous invention" - Thomas Cromwell.

Many know the story, but it was author Hilary Mantel who cleverly brought the Tudor court to life with imagined dialogue in her Man Booker Prize winning novel nearly 10 years ago, and actor Mark Rylance who enchanted us with his sensitive and often humorous television portrayal of the king's remarkable chief minister..

Bringing this long play to an open air setting is no small challenge for the north London based Tower Theatre Company director Dan Usztan and his amateur cast, but they are more than up to it.

The players, richly adorned in jewelled velvets, furs and brocades look impressive, and so is their acting - mainly square-on to the audience, every word clearly and precisely projected against a dramatic and compelling sound score by Rob Ellis, operated by Penny Tuerk.

The set is simple, with discrete royal trimmings, but it is the court gossip that grabs us. Henry has bought an emerald "the size of a sparrow's egg" to be set in to a ring - for whom, asks Lizzie Cromwell of her well-informed husband, as they tut over the brevity of a letter sent home from their son.

It is that home setting at Wolf Hall, and Cromwell's love for his wife, that gives us a personal insight into the character of this blacksmith's son, whose scheming flexible intelligence will make him one of the most influential men in England.

The Court and its aristocrats never allow Cromwell to forget his humble origins, or Cardinal Wolsey of his, as they spitefully vie for the attention of the King.

Adam Sutcliffe, resplendent in scarlet and ermine as the portly Wolsey, who is mocked for his constant hunger, gives a very fine performance, alongside Dickon Farmar, the shaven-headed Cromwell, who is lean and hungry in a very different way, for power.

Farmar hardly leaves the stage, but makes the acting look easy, deftly switching from grief to cold-blooded straight-talking calculation, as he takes on the frustrated majesty of Martin Mulgrew as Henry, and the bullying aristocrats, notably John Chapman as the Duke of Norfolk, with Guyene Muneesamy, Grant Campbell, Jon Foster and Jonathan Norris.

The bishops and archbishops are just as troublesome to him, especially Will Howells as the sneering Gardiner, Julian Farrance depicted as a self-flagellating More, Alistair Maydon as a snoozing Warham, and Paul Isaacs as Cranmer.

Samuel Currie-Smith, is spot-on, doubling as both Cromwell's son and as the spoilt and infatuated Harry Percy, who is wisely advised that as a possible former lover of the soon-to-be Queen, Anne Boleyn, "the past changes all the time".

Sophie King is beguilingly powerful in the role of Anne, and Helen McCormack as Catherine of Aragon is given strength in humour by Mantel's pen, as she promises Cromwell that she and her daughter Mary will "tidy ourselves away, if Henry becomes a monk"!

Jessica Hammett is wonderful as the formidable Lizzie, and there is fun to be had with the petulant musician Mark Smeaton and his lute, and Adam Hampton-Matthews as French boy Christophe.

Costume designer Haidee Elise and her considerable team must be congratulated for gloriously dressing the Court in the manner to which they are entitled, along with Jude Chalk in charge of the set, and a very efficient stage manager, Dinah Irvine.

Martin Mulgrew is Artistic Director of the Tower. Last year, he directed The Importance of Being Earnest and in 2013 his play Entertaining Mr Orton was chosen as a Tower production for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Will Howells is delighted to be making his Tower Theatre debut in Wolf Hall. It's only his second time acting in a play since school, having played the deeply unpleasant Lloyd in South London Theatre's production of Blue Stockings last autumn. He has more often been found in musicals, performing roles including Younger Brother in Ragtime, Professor Karpathy in My Fair Lady, Fogg in Sweeney Todd and Schrank in West Side Story. By day he leads the digital team for a sexual health charity and when he can find the time, he is also a freelance writer. His first play, Square, was performed at the Tristan Bates Theatre in 2016.

This is Dickon Farmar's third show with the Tower Theatre having previously appeared as Scullery in Road and Royce in The Night Heron. Other recent roles include Krogstad in A Doll's House, Sims/Papa in The Nether, Bob Caleo in Holding The Man and Ken Harrison in Whose Life Is It Anyway?
Adam Sutcliffe has previously seen at the Tower in a miscellany of singing, comic and religious roles in As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing (London and Paris) and The Producers (London and Minack). Elsewhere he has had outings as kings, convicts, priests and ghosts in Hamlet and Richard III and as jockey Lester Piggott (and 22 other parts) in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell.
Joe Lewis trained at the University of Roehampton. During training, appearances included roles in The Taming of the Shrew, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Guys and Dolls. Since graduating in 2012, Joe has performed as a supporting artist in a number of major film, television and advertising productions. He has starred as Nils Stensson in Lady Inger (Jump Cut Productions) and Erik of Hegge in The Feast at Solhaug (Ottisdotter). For the Tower, he appeared as Benvolio in our 2016 production of Romeo and Juliet, in London and Paris.
Samuel Currie-Smith is appearing in his fourth role with the Tower Theatre following roles in Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Faustus and, most recently, as Harry in The Ladykillers. This followed 3 years of study into Drama and Theatre when he was in productions of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Top Girls, The Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Beached, which he co-wrote. He recently played Esteban in All About My Mother for the Spread Eagle Players.
Jessica Hammett has been a Tower Theatre member since 2011 and has acted in The Accrington Pals and 1984, as well as playing Emma Hornet in Sailor, Beware! She has also costumed numerous productions over the years including After The Dance and The Kitchen Sink, and she directed Time and the Conways.
Wolf Hall is Adam Hampton-Matthews's sixth appearance for the Tower Theatre having joined back in 2014. Previous roles include Ned in Nell Gwynn, Edgar in King Lear, Lomax in Major Barbara, George in Sons of Paradise and numerous roles in the award winning production of The Producers, also at the Minack. Other credits include Lawrence in Calendar Girls, Uncle Max in The Sound of Music, Warbucks in Annie and Leaf in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Julian Farrance has appeared in seven shows for the Tower Theatre : 5/11, Damages, Loot, The Doctor's Dilemma, One Man - Two Guvnors, The Return of the Marionettes and Sherlock Holmes and recently he directed The Ladykillers. He has been involved in numerous productions as actor and director for other companies. In 2014, his play Shoot the Bugger was Runner Up in the Tower's First World War writing competition.
Over his 24 Tower Company years, Jonathan Norris has been involved in over sixty productions - whether as actor (Inspector Hubbard in Dial M For Murder, Alfred Doolittle in Pygmalion), music-directing (A Little Night Music and Guys and Dolls), or writing and/or playing musical additions on keyboard or trombone. He has recent happy memories of playing Ernest in Bedroom Farce and of arranging and Music-Directing Nell Gwynn in December. He and his wife Ruth now live spookily close to the wonderful new Tower Theatre in Stoke Newington - handy for their daytime jobs as Administrators of the Company.
Bryony Purdue graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in 2017 with a BMus (Hons) in Classical Performance (Voice), and having toured Europe with singing shows ranging from Classical Music to that of Fleetwood Mac, has finally put into action her desire to develop an acting career alongside her singing/songwriting work. Bryony played EmmyLou Harris for the ITV series TV and Veronica in The Joboundu Show as well as a leading role in Lemons for South London Theatre. Last November she appeared in an acclaimed production of The Rake's Progress at Wilton's Music Hall.
Sophie King is appearing in her first production with the Tower Theatre, which is her second production since getting back into acting following a 5-year hiatus. She most recently played Lisa Hopkins in the Impact Theatre Company's production of Made in Dagenham. Whilst at University she was an active member of Oxford University Drama Society, playing Evelyn in The Shape of Things and a lead role in a piece of new writing, There's Only One Lord Byron, at the Edinburgh Fringe. She is ecstatic to be living out an early adolescent dream, and taking on the role of the wonderfully complex character of Anne in this production of Wolf Hall.
Helen McCormack is a longstanding Tower member and has appeared in a variety of roles from one of the children in Blue Remembered Hills to Paulina in Death and the Maiden. More recently she has been in Tower productions of Garden, Sordid Lives, Entertaining Mr Orton, Telstar and Charley's Aunt. She recently played Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest and the Queen in Handbagged.
David Miller recently appeared in the Tower Theatre's production of Arcadia, and has previously been seen at the Bridewell in The Government Inspector (also at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), One Man - Two Guvnors, and a staged reading of Clybourne Park. While at university in Sheffield, he was involved in various student productions including The Seagull and My Boy Jack, as well as theatre-in-education projects and walk-on roles at the Crucible Theatre.
By day Grant Campbell is a Creative Director of live events. He's led teams to race cars up Whitehall for F1 Live, has turned the London Eye and Empire State Building into Twitter powered light shows for the Olympics and the Super Bowl, created the world's first multi-sensory fireworks show for London New Year's Eve and worked on several fanzones and concerts including Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday Concert in Hyde Park. He's created immersive theatre experiences ranging from a train carriage with virtual windows for Bombay Sapphire, to a festival bar and tattoo parlour for Sailor Jerry, to a 1984 pop up street for Vodafone. He hasn't acted since school, but a few years ago, spent several weeks masquerading as a TV chef for BBC2's The Restaurant where he served up a deep fried Mars Bar to Raymond Blanc.
This is Murray Deans' third production with the Tower Theatre. He has previously appeared as Paris in Romeo and Juliet in London and Paris, and as Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest in London and Gloucester, MA. He is delighted to be adding Cornwall to his growing list of performance locations, and swears he doesn't just do this for the tours...
By day John Chapman works as a freelance education consultant, writer and copy editor. Prior to this he worked at the "chalkface" for rather longer than he cares to remember. John first took to the stage as a schoolboy pretending to be a Latin frog. Decades later he is pleased to be joining the cast of Wolf Hall for his 150th production. Favourite acting roles along the way have been Hector in The History Boys, Norman in The Norman Conquests, Felix in Humble Boy and Mr Micawber in David Copperfield. Most memorable of all was when he got to play Bottom (A Midsummer Night's Dream) at the Barbican and in Stratford upon Avon in the Tower Theatre's collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2016. Best directing jobs have been with The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Lord of The Flies, Glorious! and the ten works of Alan Ayckbourn which he has steered to a successful conclusion. He has always been interested in the world of drama and in 2004 served as a panellist on the Olivier Awards, seeing a mammoth 70 productions in one year.
Guyene Muneesamy studied drama and performed from secondary school through his university years when he was fortunate enough to be nominated in a national competition as Best Supporting Actor in The Canterbury Tales. Following a break, he joined TintS based in North London and has since performed many times. The opportunities of performing in Love, Lust and Lies at the RST and in productions at the Minack Theatre have encouraged him to join the Tower Theatre. Wolf Hall is his first production with this company.
Emily Grimson is a freelance writer by day. She previously studied drama at school and took part in numerous amateur productions as well as her fair share of dance shows. This is her third Tower Theatre production after playing Clare/Louise in Road and a clown in The 39 Steps last year. She is very excited to be heading to the Minack for the first time.
This Sarah McCarthy's second production performing with the Tower Theatre having previously played Thomasina in Arcadia. She graduated from the PPA Academy in Guildford in 2016 and has since been involved with various projects. Her appearances include ensemble and swing work in the London workshops of Notre Dame and a concert of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Songbook. Most recently she performed in the latest workshop of Can't Stop It at The Other Palace and for the Brighton Fringe Festival.
This is Jon Foster's first production performing with the Tower. Predominantly a Director, Jon's recent credits include A Doll's House with SEDOS and Julius Caesar, Pygmalion and Pornography with LSESU Drama Society. Previous acting credits include Black Comedy and We Ruined Each Other. Jon's professional background is in education and the charity sector. He is currently a member of the Barbican Youth Panel.
Alistair Maydon has acted in a number of Tower productions, most recently playing Henry Fielding Dickens in Little Nell. He is delighted to be in the cast for this production of Wolf Hall.
Paul Isaacs has most recently appeared in The Winter's Tale, and his previous shows include Much Ado About Nothing, Loot, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Slab Boys. Appearances with other companies include The Little Dog Laughed and The Pride (both SLT), Platonov and A Woman of No Importance (both with Acting Gym workshop), Hansel and Gretel (Colour House Theatre) and theatre in education work in Spain. He is very happy to be appearing at the Bridewell and Minack in another Renaissance drama!
Michael Mayne is very excited to be going back to the Minack having been in many Tower Theatre productions over the years and looks forward to the ensemble work with this production of Wolf Hall.
This is Dan Usztan's fourth time directing for the Tower Theatre following productions of Road, One Man - Two Guvnors and After the Dance; he also played One Round in The Ladykillers last year. Elsewhere, he has directed productions of The Ruffian on the Stair, Our Country's Good, Bear Hug and The Crucible (Woodhouse Players), The Comedy of Errors (Courtyard Theatre) and The Importance of Being Earnest (Crucible Studio). He is an Assistant Artistic Director of the Tower Theatre.