A big budget costume drama is coming to Bolton as local theatre company stage Robert Bolt’s A Man For All Seasons.

Director Judith Leigh said: “I’m pretty passionate about Tudor history, so when the chance to immerse myself in the period for a while came along, I jumped at it!”

The story follows the struggle for power in Henry VIII’s court, his split from the Church of Rome and eventual establishment of the Church of England. 

"Most people will know it from the 1966 film, which won 6 Oscars, but Bolt actually wrote it as a stage play first," said Judith.

The experienced cast is led by Simon Mott as ‘Sir Thomas More’ making his debut for the Marco Players -although he’s had his share of experience both as an actor and director over the years, principally at Bolton Little Theatre.

Simon said: “It’s a brilliantly written play. The language is very purposefully chosen: it represents the Tudor period, yet is completely accessible and modern.”

Scott Jones, who plays King Henry VIII, agreed.

He said: “Obviously these are Bolt’s interpretations of what Henry would have said to More – but as I’m stating the lines, it’s very easy to imagine I really am him – putting my Lord Chancellor in his place”.

The play was proposed for inclusion in this season by Peter Haslam, who plays ‘The Common Man’ – a narrator of sorts - and Mark Weatherall, who takes on the ‘Duke of Norfolk’.

“As an English Teacher I’m particularly drawn to the clever use of language,” says Mark, “It’s no wonder Bolt’s script won him best screenplay, and the stage version, of course, also won a Tony award for best new play.”

The cast also includes Laura Roberts as More’s loyal wife ‘Alice’ and Catherine Cropper as ‘Meg’, his talented daughter.

“Meg was unusual for the time.” says Catherine, “Her father had taught her to read and write and she was a proficient scholar, reading both Greek and Latin fluently.”

Laura added: “Interestingly, Meg wasn’t Alice’s child, but More’s daughter by his first wife and you can sometimes detect an air of jealousy from Alice since Meg was clearly More’s favourite.”

“Fortunately, we found a basic ‘Tudor’ stock to base ours on,” says Carolyn Haslam who, with Janice Lyon, Pam Hunter and Chelsea Blundell-Nelson, have managed to fit out the large cast in authentic period clothes, “but we’ve had to create some from scratch and adapt others – we’re all dab hands at making Tudor bonnets now!” she added.

Judith, who has had to turn seamstress herself, agrees.

“It’s been a magnificent team effort and we’ve ended up only having to hire two costumes. The props have been a great collaborative effort too – I’m particularly impressed with the stuffed swan made by Keya Edge. It only comes on for one scene – but it’s in danger of upstaging the actors!” she adds.

The stage is now set for one of the most ambitious pieces of theatre the group have ever staged.

“It’s been an exciting experience as my first directorial experience,“ said Judith, “and quite odd that I’ve spent a fair bit of my time bossing my husband, Richard, about the stage as my ‘Cromwell”.

“Not that odd,” added Richard, with a wry grin.

‘A Man For All Seasons’ runs from 22nd to 25th November 2023 from 7:30 nightly at Stepping Stones Nursery, Chorley Old Road, Bolton, BL1 6AH. Tickets available from 01204 294401 or via www.themarcoplayers.net