Theatre review: Henry V

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Penny Bristow reviews the RSC’s screening at South Holland Centre in Spalding.

After thoroughly enjoying Gregory Doran’s productions of Henry IV parts 1 and 2 for the RSC earlier this year, I was keen to see the third play in his trilogy, Henry V.

His production of this great play for the RSC manages to switch seamlessly between the comic and the serious. Alex Hassell develops from a younger belligerent, spoilt prince to a humble, serious young king who puts his complete faith in God. For me, the scene in which Henry V woos and wins the hand of Princess Katherine (Jennifer Kirby) had the entire audience melting.

The production moves with great flow between the scenes, helped because, in true Shakespearian style, the stage is bare, something that requires the audience to work their imagination, translating words into the picture of a real battlefield.

It moved at a great pace while remaining easy to follow throughout and Alex Hassell is captivating, his delivery exuding strength and leadership without going over the top. I was less impressed by veteran actor Oliver Ford Davies, who plays the Chorus role in an old school style, not often seen at the RSC anymore. Despite this, I would still rate this and Henry IV parts 1 and 2 as the RSC’s best productions for some time.