A Deadly Battle of Wills
When King Henry VIII decided to rid himself of a barren wife and wed another who might give him an heir to the throne, one good man - with an unrelenting conscience – stood in the King’s way: Sir Thomas More.
This battle of wills between the English King and More is at the center of Robert Bolt’s acclaimed historical drama, “A Man for All Seasons” enMoying a three- weekend revival by the Actors’ NET of Bucks County. NET Artistic Director Cheryl Doyle of Morrisville directs popular area actor George Hartpence as Sir Thomas More, who was once one of Henry’s closest friends.
A complex figure (a lawyer who nearly became a monk, then later married and entered politics), More served in Parliament, rose to prominence; gained the King’s friendship and became Lord Chancellor of England. He opposed King Henry VIII when the King reMected the Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage. Ultimately, More was put in the Tower of London, charged with treason, tried and faced with execution if he did not publicly consent to the King’s marriage.
James Banar of Yardley plays the pivotal role of Henry VIII, but Bolt’s drama goes beyond the clash with More to also focus on the corruption within the King’s Court. Jack Bathke of Robbinsville, N.J., plays Thomas Cromwell, the unscrupulous King’s aide who plots to bring down More and advance his own career. Hugh Barton of Yardley portrays the Duke of Norfolk, a More friend who is forced to preside over his friend’s trial. David Swartz of Ambler is Cardinal Wolsey, the Lord Chancellor who fails to gain the Pope’s consent for Henry’s divorce and remarriage.
Carol Thompson (Hartpence’s real wife) plays Lady Alice More, Sir Thomas’ wife. Maryalice Rubins-Topoleski of Langhorne portrays their daughter and More’s closest confidante, Margaret, who both loves and challenges her father.
David Newhouse of Harrisburg dons multiple roles – from innkeeper to Mailer to executioner -- as “The Common Man,” interacting with the characters and sharing his observations and insights with the audience. Rounding out the cast are Marco Newton of Yardley as Spanish ambassador Signor Chapuys; Dennis McGuire of Levittown as the ambassador’s assistant; John Helmke of Hamilton, N.J., as William Roper, Margaret More’s fiancé and later husband; Mark Swift of Hamilton, N.J., as Richard Rich, a friend who is asked to betray his mentor; and Jon Wolodzko of Yardley as Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury who helped the King defy Rome.
A Man for All Seasons performs Oct. 26 to Nov. 11 at the Heritage Center, 635 N. Delmorr Avenue (Route 32), Morrisville – near the Calhoun Street Bridge. Show times are )ridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors 62 and up and $10 for children age 12 and under. The NET has rated this production PG. )or reservations, call the nonprofit Actors’ NET at 215-295-3694 3694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. On-line tickets can be purchased via www.brownpapertickets.com.
George Hartpence as Lord Chancellor More.