A Man for All Seasons
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

A Man for All Seasons, currently being performed by the Ross Valley Players in Marin County, is a historical play set in the time of King Henry VIII. It focuses on King Henry wanting to change church law so that he could divorce his current wife Catherine in order to marry his mistress and on the one man who opposed him, his Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More.

But what many people choose to ignore about this play by Robert Bolt, is the importance of the narrator known as the Common Man. The 1966 movie, starring Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More, de-emphasized the Common Man and focused on More’s moral fiber to stand up for what he believed in even if it meant losing his head.

Fortunately Ross Valley Player’s director Ken Rowland chose to maintain the Common Man who questions the sanity of More’s moral fiber. After all, Bolt wrote the play that way for a reason. The Common Man is a survivor, or as he says to the audience: “It isn’t difficult to stay alive, friends – just don’t make trouble.” The result is a play that provides an equal balance to the question of whether one should be willing to martyr themselves for what they believe in or be willing to give up some of their beliefs outwardly in order to keep their head and go on living. The Common Man who invariably chooses life over death is not without influence. Indeed, he is the primal mover of all the action in the play. He is also not without honor for there is heroism in learning how to stay alive during dark times in human history.

An excellent cast, fine costume design by Rosemary Bock and judicious editing by Ken Rowland combine to make A Man for All Seasons an enjoyable night of thought provoking entertainment. For tickets call (415) 456-9555 or visit www.rossvalleyplayers.org.

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