RIVETING, EMOTIONAL AND TRIUMPHANT
The paradox that envelops personal conduct is that regardless of positive progress, human behaviour rarely changes. And although birth, divorce and death each constitute as life altering events that can modify attitude and motivation, people inevitably stay the same.
In Kate Hennig’s riveting, emotional, one-of-a-kind love story all rolled into one triumphant theatre offering, The Last Wife’s glorious remount at the Young Centre for the Arts somewhat dispels this theory in the transformation that overtakes Henry (Joseph Ziegler). Aspiring playwrights can only dream their canon reaches an apex with a story like this, Hennig gets it right with her first big stage work.
Told from the perspective of his newly acquired spouse, Catherine ‘Kate’ Parr (Maev Beaty), the playwright gives us a line of sight from the 6th and final wife in her re-imagining of King Henry VIII’s later life reign. What makes this such an extraordinary theatre experience is director Alan Dilworth’s hypnotic view casting bright strobes of light on the ‘great motivator’ that she played in the marriage which flipped ‘an entire system on its head.’
Sara Farb as Mary and Bahia Watson as Bess position themselves as a ‘national asset’ in their supporting roles. As once banished daughters with unresolved issues for dear ol’ dad, these performers stand firm in delivering satisfyingly fearless and unapologetic lines.
“I’m fat, I’m cranky, my leg is aching,’ erupts Joseph Ziegler who truly gives the emperor much needed new shoes in this resplendent and fast moving production. The stalwart actor makes Henry eminently amiable despite the character’s dictatorial nature and strangely the audience just wants him to do what’s right.
If you’re not bowing down to Mae Beatty for her contributions as Kate it’s probably because you’re missing a spine to do so. It’s a role that can be easily overdone yet the entertainer’s smart enough to remain within a tenable boundary and avoid wading into maudlin.
Politics—both sexual and conventional—can require creative maneuvering when deep feelings comes into play. The Last Wife serves as a living legacy that all voices are equal.
THE LAST WIFE by Kate Hennig January 20 – Feb 11, 2117 YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto TICKETS $32.00 – $89.00 www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Sara Farb, Jonah Q. Gribble, Gareth Potter, Bahia Watson and Joseph Ziegler DIRECTOR Alan Dilworth SET & COSTUMES Yannik Larivee LIGHTING Kimberly Purtell SOUND DESIGN Alexander MacSween ALEXANDER COACH Kelly McEvenue STAGE MANAGER Robert Harding and Melissa Rood