CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Theatre review - Henry V, The Dukes, Lancaster

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 October 2018

Ben Hall as Henry and Alice Barclay as Exeter in Henry V at the Dukes in Lancaster

Ben Hall as Henry and Alice Barclay as Exeter in Henry V at the Dukes in Lancaster

Archant

David Upton reviews a Henry for our times.

There’s nothing new about Shakespeare’s language, plots or themes having some traction to our own times but in this raw and exciting production of Henry V they come vibrantly to life like that day’s headlines.

England is divided; a new leader seems unsure of themselves; intransigence across the Channel, and diverse interpretation of the law, leads to confrontation. Assisted by self-serving ‘experts’, a plotting hierarchy, and – it is supposed – the will of the people, the country finds itself mired in conflict.

Sounds familiar?

Well when the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Henry’s side, and the European President, that very day, both speak of the challenge of a Gordian Knot, then the intervening centuries might as well just fall away . . .

Such contemporary references, aided by modern dress, make this play about national identity and patriotism all the more resonant. It’s a production, from Bristol-based Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, that is strong on the sound and fury of its story even if it seems less concerned with the detail of its diction.

In commendably keeping its two acts to 80 minutes apiece director Elizabeth Freestone has her cast of 13 fairly rattle through the narrative. Ben Hall, in the title role, has a hulking stage presence and all the acting ability to convey the inner conflict of a monarch trying to be both leader and a good man. But his Henry is in a hurry and some of the speeches fly by like his archers’ arrows, occasionally missing their mark.

As his reluctant bride-to-be Katharine, Heledd Gwynn takes all the time in the world to ‘talk dirty’ to the monarch in the play’s climactic last scenes. As a power-dressed punk she makes a fully-fleshed personality out of a role too often underplayed.

But then not one character here gets anything less than the closest acting attention, in a production that also spares nothing of the brutality of war, making one or two audience members flinch when witnessed in the intimacy of the theatre’s studio setting.

dukes-lancaster.org

More from Out & About

Art is just one of the many attraction on offer in this busy Lakeland town.

Read more
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Garstang is a lovely old market town and the perfect place to walk off the Christmas dinner. John Lenehan reports

Read more
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Christmas traps many people indoors so it is nice to get out into the wild and breathe in some fresh air. The Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright finds a hidden corner where you can look out for lots of birds

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

This pretty coastal town has an irresistible pulling power for people wanting to set up their own business and that’s good news for locals and visitors

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

This Lancashire city is transforming itself into a centre for the best food and drink, hospitality and heritage

Read more
Preston
Friday, November 16, 2018

With the West Pennine Moors and the summits of Rivington Pike and Winter Hill right on its doorstp, Bolton has plenty of options for walkers.

Read more
Bolton
Monday, November 12, 2018

Lytham Hall was the spectacular setting for a glittering weekend of steam engines, tractors, cars and family fun.

Read more

Barrowford is one of Lancashire’s most stylish towns but it also has some quirky tales to tell

Read more

The busy West Lancashire village of Parbold scores highly for natural beauty and community spirit

Read more

The two-and-a-half year initiative to preserve the remains of the copper mines.

Read more
Coniston
Thursday, November 8, 2018

Books by Lancashire writer Paula Daly are being filmed in the Lakes by the Broadchurch team for a six-part TV drama starring Rochdale’s Anna Friel

Read more
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Fact and fiction merge to create a tale of murder and kidnap in a novel based on Rufford Old Hall by National Trust volunteer Margaret Lambert

Read more

Liverpool has always buzzed, even in its darker days, but today it’s booming, and underpinning the resurgence are institutions with roots deep in the Merseyside soil

Read more
Liverpool
Friday, November 2, 2018

With carpets of damp fallen leaves and rotting deadwood covering woodlands, autumn is the time when fungi of all shapes and sizes thrive. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Molly Toal explores the mushroom kingdom.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search