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Sir Thomas More
a Historical Drama
by Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood, William Shakespeare

COMPANY : Resurgens Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 5486

SHOWING : April 22, 2019 - April 26, 2019



Resurgens is honored to present this stirring early modern account of one leader’s defiant stand against mob violence and groupthink in an era of autocratic misrule. Partially penned by Shakespeare, "Sir Thomas More" offers both a timely and timeless drama of individual courage in the face of mass conformity. The original production was banned from the Elizabethan stage by the Master of the Revels, Edmund Tilney, because of its controversial references to insurrection. Now, after 400 years, Dr. Brent Griffin will revive this neglected classic for the first professional performance of the play ever staged on this side of the Atlantic.

Director Brent Griffin
Shrewsbury Bryan Davis
Lincoln/Executioner Thom Gillott
Roper’s Wife/Vanity Erin Greenway
Barde/Erasmus Brent Griffin
Roper/Wit Trey Harrison
Sherwin/Brewer Bob Lanoue
Doll Williamson/Poor Woman Kathleen McManus
Surrey Tamil Periasamy
Lady More Judy Thomas
Thomas More Winslow Thomas
Betts/Sheriff/Randall/Player/Inclination Matthew Trautwein
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More on More
by playgoer
Monday, May 20, 2019
The script of "Sir Thomas More" was originally written by Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle, but was banned by censors under Elizabeth I (perhaps understandable in that More was executed by order of her father, Henry VIII). The script was revised in multiple iterations by Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood, and William Shakespeare, but none of the revisions were approved for public performance. Resurgens’ production is the Southeastern premiere of the play.

While the script covers the same territory as "A Man for All Seasons," the thrust of the play is entirely different in Brent Griffin’s adaptation. We have three portions of More’s life dramatized: his eloquence as sheriff quelling xenophobic riots in London, which elevated him to the position of Lord Chancellor; a comic meeting with Erasmus, involving an entertainment concerning the marriage of Wit and Wisdom; and the tragic aftermath of his refusal to accede to Henry VIII’s first divorce, resulting in his execution. There is barely the hint of any discussion involving religion. We get the portrait of a man who in his life was known as being both witty and accomplished. He comes across as very likeable.

Brent Griffin’s direction makes good use of the Shakespeare Tavern stage, utilizing the balcony as More is addressing rioters on the stage floor below him and using the trapdoor to represent a gallows. Catherine Thomas’ costumes give a real visual flair to the production, and Matthew Trautwein’s music adds brightness to the start of the production and somberness to the end. Since Resurgens prides itself on "original practice," there are no lighting effects to add visual variety. They’re not missed.

Performances are very good overall, as 12 actors portray 25 different characters. Four play only one character apiece: Winslow Thomas as Sir Thomas More, Judy Thomas as his wife, Robert Bryan Davis as the Earl of Shrewsbury, and Tamil Periasamy as the Earl of Surrey. All do fine work. Thom Gillott, Kathleen McManus, Thomas J. Thomas, Bob Lanoue, Brent Griffin, Trey Harrison, and Erin Greenway play two roles apiece, with Mr. Trautwein picking up the remaining seven roles. Not unexpectedly, old pro Ms. McManus makes the strongest impression of the minor characters, investing her roles with deep individuality. Mr. Thomas’ clenched mouth movements sometimes make his words difficult to distinguish, but all the others speak clearly and distinctly. Characterizations maintain the clarity of the script.

"Sir Thomas More" may not soar with poetry or act as an action-filled history play, but it’s supremely interesting. The More we seen onstage interacts as a human being with common people, his family, and friends. This is a fully human portrait, not one schematized by political or religious agendas. Quintessential Shakespeare it’s not, but good theatre it is. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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