Monday, 28 May 2012

Cabbages and Kings

It's been a busy couple of weeks, but mostly related to work and other non-bloggable stuff. However, this weekend is more interesting.(It's true that the Olympic Flame relay came through my home town, and through the town where one of our offices is based, but I wasn't there in either case, didn't see it, and had no real wish to see it, which does not make for exciting blogging!)

After a very wet, very cold spring we seem suddenly to have been given all of the missing warmth and sunshine at once - my clematis has exploded into flower, as have the rock geraniums, and after a lot of tiring, and at times stressful stuff at work, this weekend has been about good things.

On Friday, I went to Bath Theatre royal to see the Globe Theatre 's touring production of Henry V.I realised, as I waited for the play to start, that it is not a play I've seen performed live, before. I have read it, and I have seen both the Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh film versions, but never seen it on stage.
(photo from Globe Theatre website)
It is not, of course, one of Shakespeare's more subtle plays, and this production concentrated on doing it well, and not on trying to make it something it isn't. The French were vain, in shiny armour and fancy surcoats. The English had plainer, battered looking armour, and big, ugly pole-axes and pikes - it wasn't hard to imagine them on a muddy battlefield, actaully killing people.
Jamie Parker as King Henry was excellent, coming across as a soldier with a conscience. The production was originally designed for the Globe, but worked well in the Theatre Royal, with lots of exits and entrances through the auditorium, and heralds and drums and pikemen charging up via the stalls.

I personally found the comedy interludes, with Pistol and Bartolph and Nym rather overdone and tedious, and would have been happy for all or most of them to be cut, but I often have that reaction to the 'comedy' in Shakespeare's history plays, so I'm  not inclined to blame the Globe for that !

The Chorus was played by Brid Brennan, which meant that the Chorus was portrayed as an older serving woman,  which was interesting.

Stylistically, it seemed to me that the production owed a good deal to the Branagh film version of the play, and it was definiely well worth seeing. at least 4 stars!

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