IpSkip Productions
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 18 Jan 2020

Review by Janice Bailey

Spanning the time from 1529-35, “A Man for all Seasons” tells the story of Sir Thomas More, the Catholic statesman who opposed King Henry VIII’s self-appointment as the Spiritual Leader of the Church of England because the Pope wouldn’t grant his wife an annulment. Written by Robert Bolt, the play examines issues that gather urgency in politically tumultuous times – the conscience and courage of the powerful and the impact of ‘ordinary people’.

Director Nathan Quadrio has assembled a competent and balanced cast, led by James McCluskey-Garcia as the ill-fated Thomas More. Throughout the drama, McCluskey-Garcia’s characterization never misses a beat – it is forthright, witty and contemplative. The performance is measured and honest and sustained throughout. Christopher Duncan’s performance as the ‘Common Man’ is also highly commendable. Author Bolt explained that he intended the ‘Common Man’ to embody both universality and baseness. In fact, the Common Man shows that the “common” human being is base and immoral and therefore universal. Eventually, the Common Man’s characters become more aware of the excuses they make for their immoral acts. When the jailer deliberates about whether he should free More, he speaks directly to the audience about the futility of trying to do the right thing. By the end of the play, the Common Man affirms the notion that to be alive – regardless of the nature of one’s actions – is the only thing that counts. Overall, the Common Man’s role in the play shows his complicity in More’s persecution. Because the Common Man represents humanity in general, he is intended to draw us all into the play’s central moral dilemma.

While each actor delivers a sound ensemble performance, other notable characterizations came from Hannah Tulip as Margaret, the daughter of Thomas More; Tracey Korsten as Alice More, his wife; and Brad Martin as Richard Rich – possibly the most ‘hiss’ worthy character. As there is a minimal set, the importance of lighting and sound is paramount and Paul Tossell is up the task. Cheryl Ford has sourced basic but authentic costumes which serve to differentiate the position of the characters.

If you are a history buff and a lover of words or just appreciate good theatre you should not miss Ipskip’s Production of “A Man for all Seasons”.