As a feminist reimagining of Katherine Parr’s years married to Henry VIII, The Last Wife balances the historical retelling with contemporary gender and sexual politics.
Playwright Kate Hennig pays close attention to each of the three women, developing their character arcs which will later be drawn into a trilogy of plays. Her handling of the two Tudor Queens (‘Bloody Mary’ and ‘Good Queen Bess’ in her upcoming plays The Virgin Trial and Father’s Daughter, respectively) will likely be just as adept and intricate as Parr’s presentation here.
Celine Stubel explores the intellectual, sexual, and devotional as Katherine Parr, and develops immediate connections with both of her male counterparts. She handles both the dramatic and comedic with ease, quickly switching between them for a constantly enjoyable production.
Stubel and Oliver Becker (Henry VIII) play off each other so well, matching their intensity and making their scenes together the best parts of the night. Initially with Sean Baek (Thomas Seymour), the elicit trysts and funny banter created a similar level of intensity, however it seemed to wane as they were given a more substantial relationship.
For his debut, Ellis James Frank (Edward) handles his role well and feels quite comfortable on the stage. As a timid boy-king, he managed to hold the audience’s attention while alone on stage and prove himself a capable and up-and-coming young actor.
The Last Wife is on at Belfry Theatre until October 16. Tickets are available here.