Hilary Mantel’s now famous novel Wolf Hall, winner of the Man Booker Prize, has been adapted for the small screen, complete with a star studded cast and multi-million pound budget. But does it live up to the hype and stand out amongst a multitude of period dramas, past and present?
Fear not, Wolf Hall is much more than just another over-glamorised show like The Tudors. Opening in 1529 with the fall of Cardinal Wolsey and introducing his lawyer Thomas Cromwell (brilliantly played by Mark Rylance) I spent the first ten minutes getting hopelessly distracted by the quite frankly, ridiculous amount of very recognisable actors. Damian Lewis as Henry VIII? Check. The cute little boy from Love Actually now grown up? Check.
The triumphs and losses of the Tudors and their associates is something everyone knows at least something about, and if seen from the perspective of Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn the show would offer nothing new. It’s Cromwell as the protagonist that prevents this. although, you ultimately know what’s going to happen next, watching it all unfold from the perspective of a man who rose from nothing, with an permanent air of mystery surrounding him reinvigorates what would otherwise be a somewhat tired plot.
The only slight downside is the darkness- both lighting and plot wise. It’s not an easy watch; you have to concentrate to keep up with the political tensions- which was somewhat difficult given the frequency my screen would be filled with blackness. Very annoying, but rectified by the short glimpses of light.
Susannah Keoghbookmark me