Thursday, 14 June 2012

Henry V

In a summer of national celebrations and patriotic fervour what could be better than to go and see a play about an English King giving his opponents a good trouncing.

What luck then that Shakespeare's Henry V kicks off the Globe Theatre's summer season with a bang, firing on all cylinders from the word go.

Jamie Parker fittingly reprises his role as Prince Hal from the theatre's production of Henry IV parts 1 and 2 in 2010.

When we saw him last, he was having a great time, boozing it up in the taverns of Eastcheap and cavorting with Falstaff and his mates, without a care in the world.

Now as the King he has assumed the mantle of the crown and has grown up considerably into a thoughtful, conscientious and no-nonsense monarch.

We see a young man for whom the burden of responsibility is taken very seriously and who wants to be seen and remembered as a fair and honourable King.

Jamie Parker is superb in the title role, appearing bloodied but unbowed as he takes charge of the stage, and addresses the audience as though we were his loyal subjects.

Indeed, so at one are we with him that when he gives us all his morale boosting and rousing speech before the siege of Harfleur, we willingly join his heartfelt and famous battle cry of "Follow your spirit, and upon this charge, Cry 'God for Harry, England and St George!'" followed by a cacophony of whoops, cheers and clapping.

However, Parker is not alone in making the production superb. The whole cast work well and hold our attention even though at the beginning they were competing with a police helicopter which buzzed loudly and persistently overhead, clearly keen to see the action below.

The battle scenes were inspired - complete with gunpowder, bows, arrows and enormous and frighteningly huge pikes - all beautifully choreographed, and there were some lovely comic moments which proved an antidote to the seriousness of the main action.

Much merriment was had in the opening scene of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Paul Rider) and Bishop of Ely (Brendan O’Hea) who discussed matters whilst on the privy, and Sam Cox as Pistol and Brendan O'Hea as Captain Fluellen who provided a glorious comedy double act.

For an evening of outstanding acting to lift the spirits, go and see this amazing production.

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