Tweetingit: 5***** A peerless performance from a superlative cast delving into the mind and machinations of a most charismatic King.
Accessing Digital Theatre for the first time, I felt like a kid cut loose in a sweet shop. The theatrical equivalent to Netflix is easy to navigate and provides a mouth-watering selection of shows recorded live.
A crystal clear high definition picture greets the viewer via a simple click. I plumped for this brilliant RSC production of the final part in a tetralogy of history plays. Henry V is a seminal work in the Bard’s canon with its thrusting dialogue and moments of dry humour. Although the final part of a ‘boxed set’ the play works superbly as a stand-alone piece. We now see a monarch that is mature and ambitious; a natural leader poised to reclaim his birth right.
The Chorus (Oliver Ford Davies) acts as narrator appearing at pivotal moments in the story. Henry (Alex Hassell) is convinced of his right to the throne of France by ancestry. He resolves to invade but is initially dismissed by the Dauphin (Robert Gilbert) who scornfully presents him with tennis balls. Henry is undaunted as he foils a plot against him and prepares to cross the Channel. Henry rallies the troops as the tension builds between two warring nations. The battle ebbs and flows as the conquest reaches its climax at Agincourt.
Henry V is a remarkable drama throwing light on a period of history rich in colour and pageantry. Shakespeare provides Henry with a persona that is superior, aggressive but immensely likeable. He inspires loyalty with words as sharp any sword; once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; or close the wall up with our English dead. A spine tingling warning to his enemies – even in death you shall not defeat us. It’s just one line in a series of dazzling poems that land in the script at regular intervals. It’s Shakespeare at the very top of his game where words have true meaning and beauty.
How on earth could anyone critique a play with such high production values? This is five star entertainment by anyone’s standards, and would thoroughly recommend Henry V to anyone deterred by the memory of English lessons at school.
Having the opportunity to watch it online from the comfort of your own home, is also, fabulous!
Needless to say the cast are magnificent and deliver wonderfully controlled performances. So why not log on and cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!
Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Gregory Doran
Producer: Royal Shakespeare Company