A contemporary retelling of the compelling relationship between Katherine Parr and Henry VIII, The Last Wife is a funny, powerful examination of patriarchy, sexual politics, and women’s rights.
Kate Parr is smart, confident, and passionate: a rising star in a world of intense competition. But her obligatory marriage to Henry is rife with the threat of violence and the lure of deceit; her secret liaisons with Thom, her husband’s former brother-in-law, could send her to an early grave; and her devotion to the education and equal rights of Henry’s daughters is putting an even bigger strain on her marriage. Does Kate risk her life to gain authority in both her relationship and her political career? Which love will she be led to if she follows her heart? And what kind of future is there for her children if she makes a crucial mistake?
Part 1 of the Queenmaker Trilogy. This is a contemporary play. This is a domestic play. No historical costuming or accents are required. Diversity in casting is strongly encouraged.
KATE: a lady of the court, later a queen; early thirties
BESS: a princess; eleven to fourteen years old
MARY: a princess; late twenties
HENRY: a king; in his fifties
THOM: a naval officer; late thirties
EDDIE: a prince; six to nine years old
Stratford Festival, Stratford, ON, 2015.
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“Here is a playwright who is taking on the big themes of feminism with a restless, probing intelligence and political savvy. Her characters are living, breathing, messy human beings who reach for the stars and who stumble in the dirt. These are not mouthpieces for politically correct punditry, but people whose emotions cause chaos and whose ideas drive their passion. In short, this is the best kind of playwriting: thoughtful, full-bodied, and redolent of the stuff of life.” —Bob White, Director of New Plays, Stratford Festival (From the Playwrights Canada Press Website)