Review – ‘Fallen in Love’ by Joanna Carrick, Tower of London

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My review of ‘Fallen in Love’ by Joanna Carrick, published on TheLondonWord.com

The story of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn is one that has been retold countless times. No doubt, because it has all the ingredients for a salacious tale – royalty, romance, betrayal, political machinations and let us not forget the seedier mutterings of incest. This notoriety means it is key, though, for an author to find a new angle, so that their rendition of the story stands out.

Philippa Gregory has already famously run with the idea of telling Anne Boleyn’s story from the vantage point of her sister Mary. Joanna Carrick has instead gone with the interplay between Anne and her brother George, with whom Anne was accused of committing incest. Atmospherically staged in the banqueting suite of the Tower of London, where Boleyn brother and sister met their fate, Fallen in Love allows Anne’s history to unfold through interactions between herself and her beloved brother George.

There are no other characters in this play, which is intimately set on and around a bed the small audience surrounds, that fittingly turns into platform when the Boleyns are executed at the end. The decision to keep the set simple and focused around the bed, which plays bed, dance floor and executioners stage, highlights fantastically the closeted atmosphere of a court life. A life that, particularly for women, revolved around what was done or discussed in the bedchamber. The constant presence of the bed also kept the audience on edge to see which way Carrick would interpret the rumours that Anne and George had an incestuous relationship (and I won’t spoil it for you).

Emma Connell (Anne) and Scott Ellis (George) inhabited their characters beautifully and really gripped the attention of the audience. They both showed off a sensitive acting range that captured the subtleties of Anne and George’s relationship.

The script itself wasn’t bad, allowing Anne and George to spark alive occasionally for the audience. Carrick is to be commended for the way she also allows other historical figures to come alive through George and Anne’s retellings. However, it felt like sometimes the scenes didn’t change smoothly and the scripting was a bit predictable. There was no new side really to the Anne Boleyn story that emerged and occasionally time that could have been spent building character depth further was sacrificed to get all the historical facts about Anne Boleyn’s story out there.

Not a perfect play, and Tudor buffs may be left feeling a little disappointed, but still worth seeing if you love your court intrigues and are a bit new to Tudor history. And, the chance to experience the Tower of London after visiting hours too is definitely not something to be passed up either.

Fallen in Love is being performed on the following dates at the Tower of London, EC3N 4AB:

June  8-9, 13-16

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