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Henry V Royal Shakespeare Theatre – Stratford-upon-Avon

Joshua Richards as Fluellen, Jim Hooper as Erpingham, Alex Hassell as Henry V and Dale Mathurin as Bates in Henry V. Photo by Keith Pattison
Joshua Richards as Fluellen, Jim Hooper as Erpingham, Alex Hassell as Henry V and Dale Mathurin as Bates in Henry V. Photo by Keith Pattison

Following on from his productions of Richard II and Henry IV Parts I & II, Gregory Doran brings us the next play in Shakespeare’s ‘great cycle of kings’, Henry V.

Gregory Doran’s production is a very good example of how to do Henry V traditionally and do it well. He takes the idea of the 5 prologues talking directly to the audience further by incorporating it all the way through the play. We open with almost a bare stage going right to the bare back wall.

Chorus (the wonderful Oliver Ford Davis) begins by wandering around the stage picking up prop swords and Henry’s crown. After the first prologue the house lights stay on, and do so through the entire play. Although it’s the RSC with a relatively large budget, it still had that feeling of ‘we are presenting these historical events in the best way we can, but you’ll need to use your imagination’.

After playing Prince Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II, Alex Hassell continues the story in the role of King Henry V. Unlike many portrayals of Henry V who are very war-minded, Hassell plays a thoughtful and slightly innocent King, much more like the Prince Hal of the Henry IV plays. He proves as a strong performer throughout; in the war scenes, with Katherine, and when in disguise.

There are other notable performances from Antony Byrne as Pistol and from Robert Gilbert as the Dauphin. Byrne continues in the role of Pistol from Henry IV and it is a lovely moment when the overconfident Pistol is down on his knees begging during the very funny famous leek scene. Gilbert gives a slightly caricature-like, amusing Dauphin, but in Shakespeare’s time they would seemingly have been mocking the French.

This is very enjoyable production of one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces, performed by a very strong ensemble, with some standout performances.

4 stars

Review by Elliott Wallis

Henry IV is dead and Hal is King. With England in a state of unrest, he must leave his rebellious youth behind, striving to gain the respect of his nobility and people.

Laying claim to parts of France and following an insult from the French Dauphin, Henry gathers his troops and prepares for a war that he hopes will unite his country.

Gregory Doran continues his exploration of Shakespeare’s History Plays with Henry V performed in the 600th anniversary year of the Battle of Agincourt. Following his performance as Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II Alex Hassell returns as Henry V.

Following its run at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company returns to the Barbican this November with Henry V, as this epic journey through Shakespeare’s History Plays reaches its climax. Henry V will also be broadcast live to cinemas on 21 October 2015. Henry V is supported by the Mark Pigott KBE Family

Feature trailer | Henry V | Royal Shakespeare Company

Daniel Abbott – Gloucester/Monsieur le Fer
Martin Bassindale – Boy
Antony Byrne – Pistol
Sean Chapman – Exeter
Oliver Ford Davies – Chorus
Nicholas Gerard-Martin – Orleans/Bishop of Ely
Robert Gilbert – Dauphin
Alex Hassell – Henry V
Jim Hooper – Canterbury/Erpingham
Jennifer Kirby – Katherine
Jane Lapotaire – Queen Isobel
Sam Marks – Constable of France
Dale Mathurin – Bates/Bedford
Chris Middleton – Nym/Warwick/Governor of Harfleur
Evelyn Miller – Rambures/Lady-in-Waiting
Keith Osborn – Montjoy/Scroop
Sarah Parks – Mistress Quickly
Leigh Quinn – Alice
Joshua Richards – Bardolph/Fluellen
Simon Thorp – King of France
Obioma Ugoala – Grey/Gower
Andrew Westfield – Westmoreland/MacMorris
Simon Yadoo – Cambridge/Williams/Jamy

Director – Gregory Doran
Designer – Stephen Brimson Lewis
Lighting – Tim Mitchell
Music – Paul Englishby
Sound – Martin Slavin
Movement – Mike Ashcroft
Fight Director – Terry King

Royal Shakespeare Theatre
12 September – 25 October 2015


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