Sunday, 2 February 2020

Henry VI at the Sam Wanamaker

My friend A and I saw the Globe's trinity of Henrys - Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. last year,so when we saw that the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse next door was ding Henry VI, it seemed like a good plan to go!

Henry VI is 3 separate plays - I've seen the plays once before, in 2013, as 3 separate plays this production is a compressed version of the 2nd and 3rd of the trilogy, so starts with  the arrival of Queen Margaret, and the news that she comes with no dowry, and at the cost of losing provinces in France won by Henry V. Things don't do well, from there...

It's a modern dress production, York appears as a wide-boy type, in a white suit embroidered with white roses, and the others has suitably colour coded and decorated clothes, too. This King himself, Jonathan Broadbent, appears in a hoodie, making him less impressive and memorable in appearance than any of his courtiers, emphasising his passive role.

photo of a group of  9 people on stage at the Sam Wanamaker theatre
Cast photo (photo from Globe theatre) 

Later in the play, once the battles started, characters wore sports kit in red or white, emblazoned with their names (and in some cases, regnal numbers) - a costuming choice which  does help to allow the audience to keep the characters and their allegiances straight, but at the same time does downplay the serious nature of the conflicts.

I particularly enjoyed Sarah Amakwah's performance as the strutting,  prickly Edward, and John Lightbody as Gloucester.

However, over all I felt the play was a bit patchy - it dragged in places and felt rushed in others - perhaps as a result of the cuts and merging of the 2 plays.

I am glad to have seen it, but don't regret my decision not to also book for RIchard III, which is part of the same season

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