Kings of Cloth of Gold

Tony Lidington’s play ‘Kings of Cloth of Gold’  with Angus & Ross Theatre Company premiered at The Royal Armouries, Leeds in 2012 Leeds before embarking on a northern tour.

Kings of Cloth of Gold

By Tony Lidington

Directed by Em Whitfield Brooks
Designed by Ruth Paton

With Emanuel Brierley as King Frances I and Dominic Goodwin as King Henry VIII

The year is 1520. In this brand new family comedy, Henry VIII of England meets Frances I of France at the most magnificent tournament ever held: the ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’. (So many pavilions were made of costly gold cloth that it became the byword for extravagance) These two kings compete to outdo each other in displays of wealth, wit, feasting and sporting prowess. Each king is proud, intelligent, and the epitome of chivalry. But who will eventually win this battle of vanity?

This sparkling new physical comedy by Tony Lidington (Joey – King of Clowns, Dan Leno – The King’s Jester) reunites two actors whose dexterity and onstage chemistry have gained standing ovations across the national touring circuit.

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“Angus & Ross are a company who are not afraid of the theatrical – theatre which is visual, engaging and direct: I like to create visual spectacle as well as rich text which combines pathos and humour to comment upon present society. I have worked successfully with Dominic on a number of projects, including Dan Leno – The King’s Jester, Up Frankie!, as well as Mother Goose and Sinbad at the Georgian Richmond. We enjoy working together and this will be an opportunity to work with his double act partner, Emanuel and the show’s director Em, to create a demanding 2-hander which is funny, poignant and intriguing

I have long been interested in the way men prepare for battle – as a metaphor for masculinity, the arming of a knight epitomises the ferocity, seriousness, absurdity and vanity of male attire. I am interested in the perspective that history is able to give us for contemporary themes and a lot of my writing and productions explore how core patterns of behaviour and social constraint (or lack of) are timeless. In 1520, when the young King Henry VIII of Britain met the young King Francis I of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold, on the border between their disputed empires, this was a face-off of epic proportions – not a battle, but an attempt by each one to defy the other in terms of splendour, power, authority and sheer opulence. It was a struggle for power between states, but it was also a personal struggle between the two most powerful young men on the planet – a cross between a heavyweight boxing bout and a showdown between Gok Wan & Laurence Llewellyn Bowen… a truly celebrity event!

The play is a two-hander, with each actor playing both a king and a squire. The story provides an historical context for the exploration of contemporary themes of masculinity, celebrity and foreign relations. The tournament is a stylisation of real politics and combat which provides an apt metaphor for social behaviour and foreign policy”.

What makes a man?
Why does he do what he does?
How absurd and terrifying battle is…”

These profound issues are the basis for an absorbing, witty new play by Tony Lidington.