Henry V. Shakespeare's Globe, London
Friday 15 June 2012
Dominic Dromgoole’s admirably large-spirited and beautifully paced production of Henry V is a canny, not to say mischievous, piece of scheduling, poised as it is to serve two purposes.
It brings up the rear as the English-language contribution to the extraordinary Globe to Globe international festival.
And coming in from a regional tour, it now stirringly inaugurates the Globe’s own season on the South Bank in a year when, with the Jubilee and the Olympics, there’s a perceived duty to fly the flag (even if ironically) for England.
The revival, handsomely costumed in period, finds unforced, imaginative ways of intermingling this
ambivalent work’s blasts of patriotism and its clear-sighted scepticism about the contested legality and the terrible human cost of the war. The “wooden O” of the Globe is the play’s spiritual home, its openness to the sky seeming to amplify the soaring scene-painting of the Chorus, here thrillingly played by Brid Brennan’s bright-eyed, bird-like serving woman. This must be the first Chorus ever to act as toilet attendant to the Bishops of Canterbury and Ely who here break new ground by discussing foreign policy while taking turns on a commode.
Jamie Parker is terrific as the young King – presenting him a dab hand at using his public-school heart-throb dash while also rather ashamed about his easy flair for manipulative stage-management. On the eve of Agincourt, his quiet appeal to the audience with outstretched arms casts such a rapt spell that you feel the entire theatre would rise up to march behind him. But this confidence is countered by moments when the battle-bloodied monarch appears to be mastering sudden surges of self-doubt and disgust.
The comedy is handled with a lovely aplomb, often serving to enhance, in a different key, the sense of loss and waste – as with the air of melancholy and disorientation that gathers round Pistol, who is here given a touch of the bibulous, hammy Victorian actor-manager by the fine Sam Cox. And the wider perspective of squabbling
nations within Britain is lent hilarity by equipping the Scottish Captain Jamy with the kind of thick unintelligible accent that requires subtitles and by the stage-dominating stellar cameo by Brendan O’Hea as Fluellen, here a blissfully funny Welsh windbag’s Welsh windbag.
To Aug 26 (020 7401 9919)
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 3 Martha Stewart accuses Snoop Dogg of 'smoking for four hours' during Justin Bieber Roast
- 4 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 5 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans