Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: RSC Stage Adaptation – Revised Edition

Mike Poulton and Hilary Mantel

Mike Poulton’s two-part adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed novels ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring Up the Bodies’ is a thrilling and utterly convincing portrait of a brilliant man embroiled in the lethal, high-stakes politics of the court of Henry VIII.

‘Wolf Hall’ begins in England in 1527. Henry has been King for almost twenty years and is desperate for a male heir, but Cardinal Wolsey is unable to deliver the divorce he craves. Into this volatile court enters the commoner Thomas Cromwell, who sets out to achieve the King’s desire, whilst methodically and ruthlessly pursuing his own reforming agenda.

In ‘Bring Up the Bodies’, Anne Boleyn is now Queen, her path to Henry’s side cleared by Cromwell. When the King begins to fall in love with Jane Seymour, Cromwell must negotiate within an increasingly perilous court to satisfy Henry, keep the nation safe, and advance his own ambitions.

Hilary Mantel’s novels are the most formidable literary achievements of recent times. She is the first writer to win the Man Booker Prize with consecutive novels. Adapted by Mike Poulton, the plays were premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in December 2013, directed by Jeremy Herrin.

This edition contains a substantial set of notes by Hilary Mantel on each of the principal characters, offering a unique insight into the world of the plays and an invaluable resource to any theatre companies wishing to stage them.

Reviews of Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies: RSC Stage Adaptation – Revised Edition

    • ‘One hesitates to use the phrase “a marriage made in heaven” in the vicinity of Henry VIII but that would be a fair way of describing this brilliant union between the RSC and Hilary Mantel … Such is the dramatic skill of the adaptation by Mike Poulton (with whom Mantel has worked closely) … that, if the final instalment of the trilogy had been completed and turned into a play, I would gladly have stayed up all night’ Paul Taylor, Independent
    • ‘A triumph … gripping yet darkly funny … a rollicking yarn that gives an eye-level idea of life at the Tudor court … a bold, unforgettable lesson in history and politics’ The Times
    • ‘Mike Poulton has done an outstanding job … a gripping piece of narrative theatre … characters have a three-dimensional richness … This is history made manifest … These plays are about class, passion, conscience, religious freedom and the danger of living in a society where power goes unchecked … they show that novels can sometimes be made into very good plays.’ Michael Billington, Guardian
    • ‘The mother of all costume dramas: a six-hour Tudor epic … a groaning banquet of political shenanigans and deadly intrigue … Poulton pulls off a remarkable act’ Daily Mail
    • ‘Dark and gripping … splendidly entertaining and at times deeply touching’ Telegraph
    • ‘Event theatre of the highest brow … nail-bitingly tense … Historical drama of the highest calibre’ Daily Express
    • ‘Poulton’s adaptation … triumphantly compresses almost 1,100 dense but deliciously written pages into nearly six hours of enthralling traffic on the stage.’ Georgina Brown, Mail on Sunday

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