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Who's Who in Tudor England?

Three Inch Fools 2024 Troupe. Photo courtesy of the artists.

The Secret Diary of Henry VIII, performed by Three Inch Fools at Coventry Cathedral for one night only, Friday 7 June 2024. On tour throughout the UK this summer.

Review by Barbara Goulden


Horrid Histories meets Blackadder and a whole crowd of other clever comic caricatures in this summer's touring production by the travelling theatre group Three Inch Fools.

Last night (June 7) it was in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral that a well wrapped-up audience was dazzled by the sheer energy of this four-strong cast of actors who take on so many parts that I firmly believed there were always five of them on stage. Somebody else counted ten! But no. 

In The Secret Diary of Henry VIII it was simply Charlotte Horner making her professional debut in the title role - that was in between dashing on and off stage as more real-life historical characters than you could shake a stick at.

Then there was Lucy Chamberlain hamming it up as Henry's dubious best friend, The Marquess of Exeter, Peter Long taking the part of Anne Boleyn and possibly the Pope - who knew? And finally, James Aldred who was definitely Jane Seymour at one point. 

The Pope by the way, has an American accent and a baseball cap!

Three Inch Fools at a different venue. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Meanwhile with a swish of a cloak and a who cares about the beard we meet Katherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleeves, Catherine Howard, Katharine Parr, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas More, even King Henry Vlll – basically, the Tudor gang's all there as heads are axed, swords clash and jousts are staged in a space not much bigger than the size of a sixpence – well, a few groats.

The script is witty and the athleticism jaw-dropping. 

Needless to say, there's a lot of audience participation – six-formers will love this. Then just when you're laughing your socks off at their essentially historically correct antics, the characters all turn into beautiful harmony singers and talented musicians.  

Still, just the four of them.

My only regret is that they were with us for only one night in Coventry. The good news is they are performing not only The Secret Diary of Henry Vlll but also The Comedy of Errors at other venues all over the country. It would definitely be worth checking out their website:


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