Fallen in Love: The Secret Heart of Anne Boleyn – Review

This review was written on first viewing of this play in 2011. In 2013, it is playing at the Tower of London with two new – and matchingly superb – actors, Emma Connell and Scott Ellis. Having seen it again, I highly recommend it all the more. The new website is: http://falleninlove2013.blogspot.co.uk/. SL 24.05.13

The writers and actors of history plays are often caught in the snares of hammed up acting, cod English, or dialogue as exposition, and so as an historian and theatre-goer, one approaches them with trepidation.

How marvellous and refreshing, therefore, to attend Fallen in Love: The Secret Heart of Anne Boleyn, where none of the above is true! This new play, written and directed by Joanna Carrick and produced by theatre company Red Rose Chain, is currently showing in a yurt in the grounds of the sixteenth-century Gippeswyk Hall in Ipswich.

For a start, this play, a simply staged two-hander with actors Fleur Keith and Joseph Pitcher playing Anne Boleyn and her brother, George Boleyn, is beautifully and intelligently written, and never underestimates its audience. The pacy episodic script, with each scene an intimate conversation between the Boleyn siblings, spans from the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 through to their deaths as traitors in 1536. This format gives an insightful and original perspective on these famous events, allowing us into the secret world of the Boleyns to see their hopes and dreams, Anne’s growing arrogance, but constantly engaging character, and the close, edgy nature of their relationship – helping us imagine why they might have been thought guilty of incest even if they were not.

Carrick offers us an interpretation of the events of Anne’s rise and fall that is both historically plausible and dramatically riveting. She is able to do this because this play has been impressively and impeccably researched. It ranges widely in its references – from the fact that the 18 year old Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister wore out her 52 year old, husband, King Louis XII of France in three months of marriage, to the gruesome deaths of the Carthusian monks in 1535; from Cromwell’s house at Austin Friars to – delighting the audience – the fact that Wolsey was a mere butcher’s boy from Ipswich.

Above all, though, it is the actors, Keith and Pitcher, who astound. Bearing a passing resemblance to Rachel Weisz and Jude Law in younger days, Keith and Pitcher are energetic, expressive, and damn near perfect.

The combination of accomplished writing, gifted acting, astute direction, and exemplary history mean that the result is a practically flawless piece of theatre. If I could, I would watch Fallen in Love again and again.

So make the journey to Ipswich and catch this play before it comes off on 5 June 2011. You won’t regret the effort.


Fallen in Love: The Secret Heart of Anne Boleyn

Writer/Director – Joanna Carrick
Producer  – David Newborn
Actors – Fleur Keith and Joseph Pitcher
Red Rose Chain Film & Theatre Company
Twitter: @red_rose_chain