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Wakefield School A Man For All Seasons

By • Mar 9th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

Wakefield School’s production of A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt started strong, with black hoods masking the faces of all the actors, who were seated silent and unmoving around the perimeter of the school’s arena stage. The show, which focused on the experiences of Sir Thomas More, a nobleman facing a moral dilemma in the time of Henry VIII of England, certainly was not easy material to attempt. Bolt’s story follows More as he is pressured to endorse the king’s split with the Catholic Church and his divorce of his wife in order to marry the young Anne Boleyn. Meanwhile, More’s inability to support these actions cause him to become the focus of the Spanish ambassador, who is convinced that this moral conviction on More’s part is clear evidence of his support for the Pope over his king, which further creates conflict in More’s life.

The play, while filled with great tension supplied by the subject matter, nonetheless was rather long and therefore at times dragged. However, particularly in the beginning, the pacing of lines was quick and precise. Overall, character interactions seemed dynamic and the choices made were for the most part well founded in the text, although there was not a lot of truly original developments being made. Characterization got markedly stronger as the show progressed, and the ending was interesting and effective in communicating some of Bolt’s major motifs of personal decisions based on the demands of an individual’s conscience.

Wakefield had a convincing lead man in junior Chris Stone. His emotional commitment was remarkable, and he portrayed the differences in physicality between the healthy and honored More of the beginning and the ill, imprisoned More of the second half of the show skillfully. Acting opposite him as More’s wife, Alice, was Rachel Christian, a junior who grasped well the emotional turmoil required of the part.

The standout in the supporting cast was the Common Man, played by Christian Morrison. This senior transitioned between multiple roles, including servant to More, boatman, jury member, and eventually executioner with energy and conviction, although his bearing as the different characters was not always completely distinct. His vocal inflection and facial expressions were most definitely some of the most entertaining aspects of the show. Also noteworthy was Vicky Gravett in the role of the Duke of Norfolk, the nobleman struggling between what he sees as his duty, which coincides with his desire for self-preservation, and the urge to help his friend More. Gravett’s performance definitely conveyed this important inner conflict to the audience.

Technical effects were minimalist, which served to increase the focus on the actual action of the show. Perhaps the most noteworthy technical effect came at the end, with four spotlights focused only on the head of the Common Man, as executioner, revealing the ‘head of a traitor.” This particular choice was very effective.

Given the heavy material of the script, Wakefield School made a strong attempt at telling Robert Bolt’s story of A Man For All Seasons. The actors and technicians obviously put great effort into this show.

by Laura Muth of Thomas A. Edison

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