Henry IV Part 2 is definitely darker and more melancholic than Part 1.
The Earl of Northumberland supports the Archbishop of York in leading a second rebellion after Northumberland’s son, Hotspur, falls to his death in the first civil war.
King Henry IV is dying and his country is sick too, and the King fears his son Prince Hal, the Prince of Wales, has gone back to his old ways of drunkenness and prostitution with his old friend, the hilarious and irresponsible Falstaff, who is living off the undeserved reputation of being a war hero from the first action.
Falstaff is sent off to recruit support for the King’s Army and renews old friendships in Gloucestershire with Justice Shallow and Justice Silence. Prince Hal meanwhile realises he needs to decide who to trust when he is King and he knows he has to distance himself from Falstaff.
Sir Anthony Sher as Falstaff is the best I have ever seen. His portrayal in Part 2 was full of humour and wit but also his mortality as he comes to terms with ageing. His scenes with Nia Gynne, who plays Doll Tearsheet his mistress in East Cheap, had me laughing out loud one minute and weeping the next.
Once again Alex Hassell who plays Prince Hal and Jasper Britton who plays Henry IV were excellent and a special mention to Oliver Ford Davies playing Justice Shallow.
This play has everything you need in an excellent story: humour, sadness, war, love, friendships and relationships all brilliantly portrayed by the RSC.