It's an odd one. To get the worst out of the way, the last three scenes are all about the birth of Elizabeth I and how she and her successor will obviously be wonderful. Total rubbish. But we've built up to this with the poisonous interactions of her father, Henry VIII, with a succession of key advisers: the Duke of Buckingham, his own wife Queen Catherine, Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop Cranmer. The separate falls of Wolsey and the Queen are both carefully and credibly sketched out, and both get good speeches as their farewells to the action.
The other two are a bit less integrated, however. Cranmer in particular seems to be brought in just for the sake of arguing with King Henry's counsellors; and then it turns out it was all a misunderstanding. Thus does Shakespeare portray the founding of the Church of England.
The scholarly consensus splits the authorship of the scenes a bit randomly between Shakespeare and John Fletcher. Myself, I felt the first three acts had a certain internal logic which is dissipated by the fourth and not really regained by the last. But what do I know?
The Arkangel version is rather good, and makes the best of the less than fabtastic source material. In particular, Timothy West as Wolsey and Jane Lapotaire as Catherine of Aragon carry all but the last parts of the play. I was less convinced by Paul Jessup in the title role, but it held together better than I expected from reading the script.
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