Henry IV: Part 2 at Shakespeare’s Globe
Prince Hal (Sarah Amankwah) claims victory and Hotspur (Michelle Terry) is dead, meaning King Henry IV’s (Philip Arditti) courtiers have once again come out on top. Falstaff (Helen Schlesinger) meets Lord Chief Justice (Nina Bowers) and is criticised for ignoring a summons that had been previously sent to him following his part in a robbery. He escapes prosecution – due to his military reputation – and travels to York to join the fight against the Archbishop (Sophie Russell) instead.
Granted Falstaff as an alternative title so as to prove to audiences that the play can essentially stand on its own – without it being labelled a sequel – Henry IV: Part 2 is to a large degree stripped away from pageantry and politics, and more swayed towards Falstaff portraying himself as a backwards-looking, self-reflexive personality. The piece demonstrates the interplay between rumour and history to varying degrees, and as a result effeminises it; this is a strategy taken on board by directors Federay Holmes and Sarah Bedi in order to instil gender equality into a deeply male-orientated play.
The set for Part 2 remains the same as it is for Part 1, showcasing a balcony of near-enough royal stature, together with several pieces of fabric hanging from it that bear the name “Henry” on them. In between the two-tier structure reside a series of wooden partitions that mark the entry and exit points for the actors, but also operate as soundproofs for their voices so that it appears as if they are calling one another from separate and distant rooms within the premises, as opposed to nearby ones.
Henry IV: Part 2 is tranquil and melancholic, yet also mischievous and seductive. Exploitation and alcoholism infuse to provide a thematic potency, though the drinking can sometimes go far – quite far in fact – to the point where it does become the subject of derision.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Henry IV: Part 2 is at Shakespeare’s Globe from 10th May until 11th October 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.