Katheryn Howard - a ★★★★ untold story from history!

☆★★★★ Katheryn Howard
Travelling home from seeing Katheryn Howard at Islington's Hope Theatre, I was engaged in a surprising conversation with a couple of young people about the programme I was reading. Explaining it was about a wife of Henry VIII's, they quickly opined, ‘his wives are sick!'

Thankfully understanding today's vernacular, it was only moments before they were enthusing about the now-global phenomenon and international hit musical that is Six. Sadly they got off the tube before we could talk further but were clearly well-informed about Henry's wives. It is incredible to think how most people may struggle to name them but now, with an infectious musical track in the background, not only is there a generation that can call them but positively revel in their ultimate fate!

So with that hilarious episode in my mind and memories of the ‘history remix' buzzing in my head, we return to Catherine Hiscox's 80-minute play about Katheryn Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, her short life and ultimate fate.

Expanded from a short monologue that first appeared at a new writing night at The Pleasance, Hiscock has taken Howard's chronicle as an ‘untold story' of women from history and developed this full-length production.

Unashamedly quoting the synopsis, ‘Set against the shallow and oppressive world of the Tudor court, an all-female cast retells the story of seventeen-year-old Katheryn Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII, in this poignant examination of power, truth and blame.

‘Locked within her rooms, while men investigate their conduct, the young Queen and her ladies await the interrogations they know will come.' Howard is a young woman on trial, and clearly, it is not going to end well!

Writer, Catherine Hiscock leads the five-strong ensemble as the titular Katheryn Howard, with a narrative that manages to convey, without longeur, the detail and nuance of life in Tudor court. Cleverly fulfilling the role of a chorus, Francesca Anderson, Natalie Harper, Emmanuela Lia and Srabani Sen drive the narrative, while maintaining a fascinating rapport with the audience. The final days of the Queen became to be anticipated. Still, the interaction with Howard and her courtiers cleverly captured the fraught inevitability of an ultimately frail, tortured and damaged life.

Alex Pearson's taut direction capitalises on Hiscock's smart, insightful writing and tight, perceptive performances from an ensemble on top form. No rousing chorus number at the end but equally enriching!

Katheryn Howard is produced by Goosebite Theatre and is playing at The Hope Theatre until 16 November 2019 
Tickets here: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/booking/select/gTUZKbYEzAXC