Thursday, January 24, 2008

Henry V

Following on from my Macbeth experience, Mr Keegan (no, not THAT Mr Keegan) suggested I visit the RSC to watch Henry V, directed by Michael Boyd as part of the Histories Cycle.

It is a vaguely historical tale (according to Mr Keegan, Shakespeare relied heavily on Raphael Holinshed's 1587 'Chronicles' for background material). With Henry V's claim to the monarchy based on a weak fabric of tenuous connections, he does what many world leaders before and after him have done, he invades another country, in this case France.

Henry’s small army gets involved in a drawn-out siege and are eventually forced to retreat or starve. Disaster looms as their escape is blocked by another French army at Agincourt (which I now know should be pronounced 'Ajincour').

Boyd's use of the stage is imaginative, with the foppish French performing many of their lines from trapeze-like structures. Oh, and there was plenty of flashing lights, smoke and loud explosions.

The play was energetically performed, with intensity, humour and verve. And the subject matter is, sadly, as relevant to 2008 as it was when it was first performed.

No comments: