ENTERTAINMENT

Fallen In Love (REVIEW): Anne Boleyn Returns To Tower of London To Answer Questions Of Incest

19/05/2013 17:28 BST | Updated 10/07/2013 13:22 BST

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Tales of the terrible Tudors still thrill us - the recent discovery of a new portrait of Elizabeth I sent the Internet into a cultural frenzy, along with musings of what the Virgin Queen and Henry VIII might look like in 2013.

So when a new play about the fate of Queen Anne Boleyn enters the Tudor market, heads are bound to turn (rather than roll), especially when that production rejects one of London's high-profile theatre venues.

Fallen in Love by Suffolk-based theatre company Red Rose Chain opts for historical realism at the Tower of London, staging the supposed incestuous relationship between the two Boleyn siblings Anne and George. This Sunday marks the 477th anniversary of Anne's beheading.

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George Boleyn (Scott Ellis) and Anne Boleyn (Emma Connell)

Finding your seats for Fallen in Love gives you a perfect stroll back in time, leading you past the ancient battlements and the infamous Traitor's gate, whilst being greeted by stoic Beefeaters who direct any lost theatre-goers.

The modest four-poster bed on stage in the intimate Tudor hall speaks volumes about Fallen in Love's subject matter; moments of privacy between a brother and sister who are playing one of the most dangerous games in political history.

Anne (Emma Connell) and George (Scott Ellis) move restlessly around the bed, swinging off the corners, clambering over the pillows, pacing back and forth. They are coiled springs of youthful ambition.

Connell is instantly likeable as Anne, showing all the traits we associate with the Queen: bold, ambitious, even divisive. As her power grows, so does her temper - the actress shows she has the lungs to shout down any man in her path, including her brother.

Yet Connell gives a naturally performed inner turmoil, torn between striving onward recklessly or retreating in safe defeat. History may have seen Boleyn as the meddling Queen who reshaped the country, but it was King Henry VIII who wielded the real power in changing the world with his divorce.

Ellis is a boyish George Boleyn, throwing his weight around the hall as he excitedly shares in his sister's triumphs and failures. The question over George's love for Anne is played with wide-eyed innocence by Ellis, ambiguously showing he may well have been infatuated with his sister, or at the very least besotted with her stellar rise in the court. The actors' clear passion for their roles is inspiring.

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George Boleyn (Scott Ellis) and Anne Boleyn (Emma Connell)

Fallen In Love is so dialogue-heavy, brimming with history and intense rhetoric, that it leaves you desperate for a pause for breath. Connell and Ellis could have delivered even more, given half the chance to act out their emotions more subtly, rather than constantly speak them.

Writer and director Joanna Carrick's dialogue is fast-paced and intense - viewers need a grasp of the basics of the political web that ensnared the Boleyns, otherwise they may get lost in the angst rhetoric and offhand mentions of key historical figures.

In an interview, Carrick told HuffPost UK: "The setting can't fail to intensify the emotional punch of the play."

A prickle of goosebumps emerge with any mention of the Tower or the Ravens, reminding you that you are just yards away from where this real drama played out. Those with any interest in the Tudors will be glued to Fallen In Love.

Fallen in Love is running at the Tower of London, 17 May – 16 June 2013.

Read an interview with Joanna Carrick, writer and director of Fallen In Love

Watch the trailer for Fallen In Love:

HuffPost UK Theatre Reviews