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The Last Wife breaking new ground at Globe

author: mac brock a&c editor

The show explores the power dynamic between King Henry VIII and Katherine Parr. Sabryn Rock and Oliver Becker in The Last Wife. Chris Graham Photo. Manipulation by Hayley Peters. Courtesy of Globe Theatre.

The edgy historical tale steps out of Globe’s usual.

Playwright Kate Hennig’s new script, The Last Wife is testing the waters on some uncharted political waters at Globe Theatre this month. The production explores the final years of King Henry VIII and his sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr. The Carillon spoke with costume designer Mara Gottler and University of Regina theatre grad Robyn Sanderson, who portrays a young Elizabeth I, Henry’s youngest daughter.

“Monarchs are only too human, as we know from current magazine and newspaper articles,” says Gottler.

The show’s costume design reflects the modern stylings of high-end fashion to bring the characters into a relatable context for a young audience. “There needs to be a parallel world created where the modern characters still reference the personality traits of the original historical figures,” she continues.

The show’s sleek, modern look is also reflected onstage with Laura Gardner’s set design. Setting changes happen via LED strips embedded in the floor, and an illuminated crown hangs over the stage throughout the production. The objective of the high-end treatment is “to give each actor their specific and unique take on a person we remember from history…plus deliver a high-end Hello magazine perspective on the couture of celebrity monarchs,” according to Gottler.

Actress Robyn Sanderson hopes the audience feels that same effect.

“With the help of modern dress,” she says, “it is scary how easily transferrable to our current society this story is,” referring to the parallels of misogyny and corrupted power in both Henry VIII’s reign and America’s current political environment. “It’s current, it’s politically timely, it’s funny, written by a Canadian playwright, and also features mostly Saskatchewan talent,” she adds.

The Last Wife features many familiar faces to the Regina theatre community. Sabryn Rock (Katherine Parr) is a Dora award-nominated actress whose work has been seen from Regina’s Golden Apple Theatre to the Stratford Festival. Sanderson is joined by fellow U of R theatre graduate Donny Ready (Thomas Seymour) who was seen in Root, Hog, or Die at Globe earlier this year. Oliver Becker (Henry VIII) stunned audiences in last season’s emotional hit The Secret Mask and has portrayed the King in productions of The Last Wife across the country. Rounding out the cast are Globe conservatory graduate and Saskatoon theatre veteran Anna Seibel (Mary) and Jaire Olmos (Eddie), who audiences will remember as the one of the Banks children from Globe’s record-shattering production of Mary Poppins. The team is led by director Anita Rochon, who had her Globe debut with Romeo and Juliet in 2016.

“I hope this play can leave audiences with a new outlook on women in leadership,” Sanderson says, “about how far we have come, and how far we still need to go.”

With a powerful script, edgier than most you’ll find on Globe’s Mainstage, The Last Wife is a must-see show for young, socially engaged members of the Regina community. It runs until March 19. Tickets on sale now at globetheatrelive.com.

About Mac Brock