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The King’s Mare

The King’s Mare
Written by Jean Canolle
Directed Mavis Dunphy
10 – 15 November 1975

Henry VIII has just beheaded Anne Boleyn and has sworn off marriage for good. His courtiers are determined, however, not to pass up such an excellent opportunity for making political capital, and they persuade Henry that as a man he needs a wife and as a King he needs another Queen. Holbein is sent round the courts of Europe and comes back with some portraits of well-connected princesses, including a very small miniature of Anne of Cleves, the most promising bride to be bu the courtiers’ standards, if not by Henry’s. Reluctantly he agrees to send for her, but once he sets eyes on her – dumpy and blonde, when he prefers the svelte and dark – he threatens to have her sent straight back.

He goes through with the marriage, however, and what follows is the hilarious wedding night scene between the fuming Henry, who speaks only English, and the nervous Anne, who speaks only Flemish. In desperation, Henry calls in Wriothsley, a courtier who speaks both languages, to translate for them. Outraged at being forced to share a bed with two men when she had expected only one, Anne proceeds to keep then all awake with a harangue on the only subject she knows well -heraldry- and, finally, the three of them settle down to play cards for the rest of the night.

In time, Anne grows to love Henry like a brother, which prompts him to have the marriage annulled by proclaiming her to be his sister. Henry finds temporary happiness with Kathryn Howard and Anne fins more lasting happiness in her country retreat with Wriothsley.


Henry VIII- John Wharton
Cromwell – Harry Dunphy
Cranmer – Peter Paul
Wriothsley – Colin Bailey
Norfolk – Peter Richardson
Holbein – Derek Holden
Chancellor of Cleves – Neil Jarman
Anne of Cleves – Eileen Hullett
Frau Schwartzenbrock – Molly Angell
Frau Willick – Rhonwen Debonair
Kathryn Howard – Claire Dingley
Ladies in Waiting – Barbara Fisher, Kim Bailey, Joanna Lunnon
Guards – David Foord-Divers and Mike Auvray
Master of the King’s Music – Alistair Warwick
Musicians – Jill D’Oyly-Watkins, Frances Dunphy and Barbara Rodmell


Settings designed and constructed by – Colin Lincoln assisted by David Lincoln, Emma Shaw and Mike Auray
Stage Manager – Colin Lincoln
Assistant Stage Manager – Carol Butler
Lighting – Sheila Fryatt
Sound – Andy Howe
Properties – Molly Pritchard, Hilary Medhurst
Portraits painted by – Trina Ansell
Costumes – Joan Robarts
Wigs – Simon Wigs