I felt very lucky to see the press performances of Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies at the RSC's Swan Theatre yesterday. It almost felt like sitting inside Hilary Mantel's novels - but not quite. Nothing can quite replicate her exquisite prose.
Ben Miles really brought to life Mantel's Cromwell, Lydia Leonard played the fiery Anne Boleyn, Paul Jesson a vivid Wolsey and Nathaniel Parker an unusually three dimensional Henry VIII - all superb performances, in these two unforgettable adaptations, which I watched back to back.
Hilary Mantel looked very pleased with it all - at the end of the six hour marathon I saw her in a glorious floating golden outfit fiercely punching the air with joy! She had worked very closely with Mike Poulton the adaptor and their alliance bore golden eggs, with these two powerful plays about the making of England.
It is still astonishing that Cromwell, a blacksmith's son, managed to work his way up the ranks to become one of the most powerful men in England. It also really brought home how one single action, word, moment, can change the course of history for ever.
By the end of the second play it was clear that everyone who had upset Cromwell was dead and yet we were still for him.
It was an experience to relish!