Divorced, beheaded, died.
Divorced, beheaded, survived...
Over hundreds of years of history it’s become a simple but effective shorthand for one of England’s best known kings – infamous for being both porcine and promiscuous in almost equal measure.
Henry was the man with six wives.
But what about the six women who had the same husband?
In this production by Maidenhead Drama Guild, originally written by Rebecca Russell and Jenny Wafer, they finally get to tell their tale.
“It’s quite a feminist piece,” said director Beth Wood when asked about the show.
“It focuses on female emotion and how women deal with anger and their hatred of this man – as well as the love at the beginning.
“It’s interesting that they all end up feeling the same way about this man.”
Transplanted from the 16th century to the modern day, it is even set in the same house in which they all, at some point, shared their life with the man.
Not that he ever appears on stage however.
While the marriages have inspired reams of writing for their impact on history, the wives themselves have long been relegated to little more than footnotes and sources of titillation.
But here the tables are turned, with Henry referenced as little more than ‘a guy’, according to the director - albeit one more than capable of cruelty.
She added: “Even just reading the script, you can see the character of Henry developing. There’s no suggestion of them being beheaded of anything, but he does treat them terribly.”
Like ghosts, each woman haunts the stage while the others recount their stories in turn. Despite being separate, they are also inextricably intertwined and everything from children and miscarriages to love affairs and betrayal – as well as a shared hatred of all things ginger – are played out on stage.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, with each tale having it’s fair share of humour.
“It’s also a very funny play,” Beth adds.
“It’s definitely got its funny moments and I’m by no means a history buff, but I found it very interesting too.
“To find out about the raw emotions of the women, there’s more about the women than just the history.
“It’s a story for everybody.”
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