Monday, December 11, 2017

The Last Wife tackles issues of family and patriarchy

September 21, 2016 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

It’s no secret that Henry VIII liked to chop off heads. It’s also no secret that the Tudor period in English history was a time of education and culture, largely due to the influx of plays and playwrights, and the general interest in theater. The Last Wife is a combination of the two: it’s a play about Henry VIII’s last wife, Katherine Parr.

Parr’s life is constantly on the line due to her devotion to the education of Henry’s daughters as well as secret meetings with his ex brother-in-law. The Last Wife director Esther Jun says that the play dives into some deep family themes.

“[Parr] passed her knowledge onto his daughter Mary, but more importantly, onto Elizabeth,” says Jun, “and that’s sort of what a lot of the play is about—the legacy that we pass along to our children.”

The Last Wife director Esther Jun says the play deals with many subjects (photo provided).

The Last Wife director Esther Jun says the play deals with many subjects (photo provided).

Set in modern times, the play hopes to successfully tackle some current-day issues as well as tell an entertaining story, with some comic relief, but Jun says The Last Wife takes on some serious subjects as well.

“It’s a really powerful look at patriarchy, sexual politics, and women’s rights,” she says. “At the heart of it, it’s a woman in a man’s world and how she manoeuvred herself to stand up for her own rights and the rights of the other females around her and how her legacy echoed through time. It’s really sad that I don’t think the play seems archaic in any way. We are still dealing with a patriarchal society.”

As one of the first published female authors in England, Parr lived in a dangerous world and produced some incredible work, which influenced more than just her daughters.

“It’s a historical play, but it’s contemporary and it’s very domestic,” says Jun. “It’s really about a man and a woman, and marriage, and children.”

When we view kings and queens, we see, well, kings and queens: people who are richer, who are more powerful, and who have had a longer and more prominent effect on the world than we realize we have done ourselves. But Jun says that’s not always the case, and The Last Wife brings that point home.

“It’s really about the everyday lives of these people,” she says. “They’re just like us. They have just as many fights and squabbles with their partners as anybody else.”

The Last Wife
Until October 16
$20 to $53 (Camosun students 25 percent off), The Belfry Theatre
belfry.bc.ca

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