Actor Dominic Goodwin talks to LS2 Arts about codpieces, comedy and his role as Henry VIII in Tony Lidington’s new historical comedy drama ‘Kings of Cloth of Gold’ debuted last week at Royal Armouries.
The tournament room at Royal Armouries was what originally inspired it. It is about England and France getting together in the 1520’s to joust and display to each other their sporting prowess and wealth, like the Olympic games. Henry VIII and Francis I apparently did wrestle, which Tony integrated into the plot. Emanuel Brierley and myself each play three parts. We introduce the performance as two players, informing the audience we are going to ‘’transport them over time and space’’. We also play as the two Kings and as each other’s squires.
Do you think the historical accuracy improves it?
Yes, firstly, because then you’re depicting something very true. The writer Tony Livingstone, is used to writing historical ‘faction’. He worked very closely with the Armoury to make sure he had all the historical detail correct. We do throw a lot of historical detail at the audience but the costumes are fantastic! My armour was used by Ray Winston in The Tudors. That made my day! It was nice to come out fully armed up. It was heavy though, and so uncomfortable. As for the size of my codpiece, dear heavens above!
The play is described as a ‘physical comedy’. Where does the ‘physical’ aspect come in?
I must say I found the physical aspect rather scary! I’d never actually handled a sword before the play. All sword fighting was done with the help of the Armouries. We worked with Andy Dean who was their main fight expert. He led us in four sessions at the armoury to teach us some movements and that was quite nerve racking and very tough going physically. It was good fun to do even if it was way outside my comfort zone. Especially the wrestle, which was fun trying to rehearse! I’m a big chap and Emanuel is smaller than me. The wrestle in essence it 6 or 7 choreographed moves, the difficulty lies in making it convincing!
The Armoury is obviously a very pertinent venue for this play steeped as it is in historical significance. Have you selected similar venues across the country for your tour?
Well no, as a company we’re doing a lot of rural touring next year, which involves performing in village halls. It can be quite scary; you turn up to some of these venues and they are very small. Sometimes we think how on earth are we going to play? Our props include lances, which are huge, about 10 ft. long.