Henry V at Shakespeare’s Globe
Another lovely production at the Globe, Henry V, or Harry England, is a show as large as the theatre it’s in.
King Henry V goes on the warpath when France mocks his claim to certain dukedoms. After crossing the Channel, the English army marches through French fields and cuts through French defences until the final, bloody battle at Agincourt. Refusing to back down now, a weary, hungry and dwindled England must face off against the might of France.
The play is, at its core, a story of the costs and currency of British pride. A nation so steeped in hubris that she will lead herself both to the brink of destruction, and to the greatest achievements.
This is another Globe master stroke – a wicked piece of entertainment that would rather a night of raised spirits and cheering than anything more heart-yanking. Henry V can be haunting, it can be absolutely devastating. Or it can be a high-octane, thrilling and fun piece of theatre. It is not surprising that the Globe, who work so tirelessly to make Shakespeare accessible to all, would choose the latter – and it is in no way a poor decision.
Choosing to accentuate the Bard’s humour, Sarah Bedi and Federay Holmes’s Henry V is a raucous affair. Colin Hurley, playing both Pistol and Katherine de Valois, would kill the audience with laughter if the play was a minute longer. But for all Hurley’s antics, it is the women in this show who are most fantastic to watch. Sophie Russell also brings to life the funny-as-he-is-cocky, arrogant prince of France, whom she plays most wickedly, and Helen Schlesinger is completely irreproachable in all four of her roles.
And, of course, Sarah Amankwah, King Henry V himself, is rather brilliant. Playing with grace and energy and a savage intensity, the actor becomes the titular monarch and is without doubt the heart in this performance.
As they so often do with their productions, the Globe presents Henry V as a larger-than-life epic, fitting for its stage – this is the most fun you can have watching Shakespeare.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Henry V is at Shakespeare’s Globe from 10th May until 11th October 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.