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Shakespeare's King Henry VIII 'not always popular with audiences'

17th May 2010

There are a number of reasons why William Shakespeare's King Henry VIII is rarely seen by modern audiences, according to one expert.

A new production of the play opened at Shakespeare's Globe in London this weekend, but the BBC noted it is one of the Bard's works which is often overlooked by theatres.

Professor Grace Ioppolo, a lecturer in Shakespeare at the University of Reading, told the broadcaster that King Henry VIII is perceived as 'jinxed', as during a production in June 1613 an accident caused the original Globe to be burnt to the ground.

She also claimed that the structure of the play could make it difficult for audiences to follow, explaining: 'Henry VIII is uneven - we don't know what genre it is. People walk into the theatre and ask if they are seeing a history play, a romance or a tragedy.'

In addition, Professor Ioppolo suggested that the absence of one-on-one duels and battle scenes can lead to a lack of interest from audiences, while some experts believe playwright John Fletcher contributed many of its 'creaky' scenes.

Earlier this year, Brean Hammond, a professor of modern English literature at the University of Nottingham, claimed that Double Falsehood, or the Distressed Lovers by 18th century scholar Lewis Theobald is based on Shakespeare's lost play Cardenio.

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