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“The Last Wife” at Centaur gives a new twist to Tudor England history

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By STUART NULMAN

Probably one of the best known – and most unusual and tragic – examples of holy matrimony in the history of the world is that of the six wives of King Henry VIII of England, with Ann Bolyn, Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour being the best known of King Henry’s half-dozen marital partners.

But what about the other three, especially Katherine Parr, who had the distinction of being the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII? With Kate Hennig’s play “The Last Wife”, which is playing at the Centaur Theatre until March 3, we find out that Katherine Parr was very much a modern woman in the strict world of Tudor England.

The play, which is done in a modern dress version, takes place in England during the final years of Henry VIII’s reign before his death in January of 1547. We find the widowed Ms. Parr (played to passionate, pragmatic perfection by Diana Donnelly) the object of the king’s affection, as she fights off the advances of her paramour Thomas Seymour (Antoine Yared). Somehow with the king’s spotty matrimonial record notwithstanding, Katherine has a soft spot for his majesty (Robert Persichini, in a regally bombastic performance), and not only wants to take care of him as his health declines, but also try to reunite and have him reconcile with the children of his previous wives (and future English monarchs in the making) Elizabeth (Mikaela Davies), Mary (Anne-Marie Saheb) and Edward (Alessandro Gabrielli).

As well, we discover how ahead of her time Katherine Parr was, as she delves into the king’s business of having England rule the seas (by developing a deep understanding of different types of ships and their cargo capabilities), as well as breaking ground in the literary world by being the first woman to ever have books authored by her that were published in the English language under her own name.

With a script that’s filled with plenty of humor and modern dialogue that will never bog down the audience with classic English diction, “The Last Wife” gives us a new twist to a much unheralded piece of history from England’s turbulent Tudor dynasty, and how Katherine Parr became an unlikely trailblazer for future generations of women everywhere.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 514-288-3161 or go to www.centaurtheatre.com.

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Veteran Montreal playwright Ann Lambert is taking her first crack at writing mystery novels, as her first volume in a series of mystery books – called The Birds That Stay – will be officially launched at a live reading/Q&A event on March 5, 6 p.m., at Paragraphe Books on McGill College Avenue.

Published by Second Story Press, The Birds That Stay pairs up an unlikely duo who solve the murder of a reclusive elderly woman, who is found strangled to death in her home located in the Laurentians. That crime-fighting, mystery-solving duo? Romeo Leduc, the veteran police homicide Chief Inspector, and Marie Russell, a 58-year-old writer and divorced mother of two who was also the neighbour of the murder victim.

The launch event will also feature a Q&A session with Ms. Lambert that will be moderated by award-winning Montreal actress/playwright Michaela Di Cesare. Admission is free.

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Congratulations are in order for two Montreal artists who were part of the group of eight recipients of this year’s Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

Susan Edgerley won the Saidye Bronfman Award, which recognizes an exceptional fine craft artist. Born in Toronto but now resides in Val Morin, Ms. Edgerley has been nominated for this award on two previous and is renowned for her artistic works that mainly feature glass, and her works have been displayed and exhibited across Canada, the U.S., France, England, Germany, Finland and Singapore.

The husband and wife team of Monic Brassard and Yvon Cozic, who work under the name of “COZIC”, are recipients of the Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award for their more than 50 years of contributing to the Quebec artistic world. They are mainly known for their works that question the ego and gives the viewer the chance to participate and engage with their artistic pieces.

The three will receive their respective awards at a ceremony at Rideau Hall that is scheduled for March 28.

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