It seems strange to end this series of favourite Shakespeare productions with a play that he almost certainly co-wrote with John Fletcher. On the other hand, this is primarily a play of farewells – to the world, to life, to greatness, in which Buckingham, Wolsey and finally Queen Katharine all depart the scene.
It's not that often done, but I recall a few rousing productions. Trevor Nunn did a fine one in 1969 with Donald Sinden as a Holbein Henry and Peggy Ashcroft as an extraordinarily moving Katharine. Howard Davies followed that at Stratford in 1983 with a boldly Brechtian version, while Greg Doran in 1996, blazoning the play's sub-title of "All Is True" across the back wall, subtly showed how truth is a relative commodity. Given that the play led to the burning down of the original Globe theatre in 1613, it was brave of its modern equivalent on Bankside to revive the play in 2010. It was a decent enough production, with good performances by Dominic Rowan and Henry and Kate Duchêne as Katharine, but it didn't exactly set the Thames, or indeed the Globe, on fire.
But the best performance I've seen took place in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford in 2006, directed by Greg Thompson. I was reminded of it when reading an advance copy of an excellent book by David Weston, Covering Shakespeare, to be published by Oberon. Weston offers a performance-history of almost all of Shakespeare's plays and vividly recalls that particular Henry VIII: especially the great moment when, at the christening of the future Queen Elizabeth, the church bells rang out and fireworks flashed in the night sky. There were some notable performances, especially from Corinne Jaber as Katharine, but what I most remember is the perfect fusion between the melancholy grandeur of the setting and the play.
And, with that, I end this survey of favourite Shakespeare productions. I can only thank everyone for, to borrow a phrase from Henry V, piecing out my imperfections with your thoughts.
• What are your favourite versions of Henry VIII? Let us know in the comments below
• Shakespeare's plays: as you like them – enjoy Michael Billington's full blog series