It was a heroic death, but a karmic one, too. To his credit, Jim Pounds adds a hint of hubris and causticity to More's dominant spirit of witty, paternal saintliness. Likewise, Mark Armstrong lends vulnerability to his opportunistic Richard Rich, whose fortunes throughout the play progress in an inversion of More's. Similarly effective, if perhaps less layered, is Scott Keely's stylishly sinister exhumation of Thomas Cromwell.
In the end, however, the smooth production can't transcend Bolt's shallow script. From the start, the play establishes the hero's position as a spotless man of conscience adrift in a sea of compromised baddies, and a not particularly dramatic battle ensues. Act 2 is an especially tiresome repetition of this storybook theme. The staging, colored in pleasant but soporific golden browns, soon resembles the script's stifling blandness. It begins to evoke some anemic medieval penalty, like being forced to wear a mohair shirt of an unflattering hue, or being flagellated for tedious hours with feather dusters.