England’s break with the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century—for reasons owing to King Henry VIII’s desire for martial expedience—points to a most effective tool those in power wield in politics and religion: If the game isn’t going your way, change the rules. But there’s always one guy who won’t get with the program. In England, Sir Thomas More was that guy. In Robert Bolt’s dreary drama, “A Man for All Seasons,” we find out why. While the king was out flashing his recently acquired godly supremacy like a dandy in a new suit, More’s emphatic refusal to endorse this shift in theological authority threatened to turn the whole campaign into a rehash of the emperor with no clothes. I actually thought I had a tenuous grasp on this period in history, but Bolt situates the play in a narrative no-man’s land. Director Edward Sobel’s efforts don’t exactly clarify matters, nor does David Parkes’ generic performance as More. Parkes is a good actor (a few months ago he dug down deep and found his inner loser as a car salesman in “Buicks”), but he has a tendency to dip into the same old bag of tricks: a smug, arched eyebrow here, a little restless indignation there. It feels painted on, which is a shame; this particular actor is capable of so much more. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.