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A Man For All Seasons at The Acorn Theater is a play about Sir Thomas More not yielding his beliefs about God nor mankind. Set in 1530, King Henry the Eighth wants a divorce from his wife, (she cannot produce a son) for the King. More, who has been promoted to Chancellor, lives a very good life with his family. A lawyer by trade, he is the most respected of all the clergy. The King trusts him, as do many of the Catholic religious order. More (Michael Countryman) see trouble brewing, however. More is not only a humble, pious man, but one who can read through people. He knows that the King will want his blessing on his divorce. As More stays silent on the subject, his wife Alice (Carolyn McCormick) presses him to speak on behalf of the King. Sir Thomas, never one to be intimidated, stays mum to the end and loses it all, his home, family and his freedom.
A Man For All Seasons is Produced by Fellowship For Performing Arts. It is a New York City Based theatrical production company founded by Max McLean. Its mission is to bring theater from a Christian worldview that engages diverse audiences. FPA tours Universities as well major performing arts centers across the country.
Written by Robert Bolt (Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia), the two time Oscar winner wrote this deep piece in 1960. The fact that Thomas More would not yield to his beliefs is almost Christ-like. He chose death, rather than acquiesce to his fellow religious partners. Neither the King, nor Cromwell (Todd Cerveris) could shake him. Frustrated by his steadfast beliefs, the court resorts to falsities to convict and sentence him to the Tower.
In some of the best lighting I have seen in a long time, Aaron Porter is on the mark in the way the lights keep the audience bouncing from one great character to the next. Brilliantly washed throughout the set, the colors set the tone and mood brilliantly. Porter is spot on in this play.
Theresa Squire does a wonderful job with the costume design. She captures the period, but more importantly, she shows us how More has come down in society by his different form of dress when he falls from grace. We also see this amongst his wife toward the end of the play, stripped of her staff. She is at a loss in this life. Squire shows us the demise of the Mores and the rise of Richard. Once low on society's totem pole, Richard has moved up and up in society through his wicked ways.
Christa Scott-Reed directed this show with great insight as to how each character should be played. From the common man, to the King, onto Richard, More's family, we see brilliantly how each person unfolds throughout this show. Reed has the actors moving on a very economical stage. Without great scenic design (Steven Kemp), direction, and lighting, this play would not work as well as it did.
While all the actors were very good, Harry Bouvy and Michael Countryman were standouts. As the common man, Bouvy paints us the picture of what the times were like. He is humorous, conniving, and shows us the life and times of the people in the play. Rather than through us back in time without a life raft, Bouvy explains those times in our time. Michael Countryman was very at ease playing More. He saw all, was confident in his beliefs, smart, warm and loyal. Countryman has us pulling for him as if it was us up on stage going through his turmoil. When England splits from Rome, the times become worse, torturing, people double crossing one another and a distrust in the country becomes the new norm.
The FPA continues to put on great works. This was my third show at the Acorn. All have been well acted, well directed and all have a great message. A Man For All Seasons is a two and a half hour resonant bit of history that is well done.