From Rumour’s tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.
Henry IV, Part 2 – June 18, 2014
Directed by Gregory Doran
Cast: Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Martin Bassindale, Jasper Britton, Antony Byrne, Sean Chapman, Paola Dionisotti, Oliver Ford-Davies, Nicholas Gerard-Martin, Jonny Glynn, Robert Gilbert, Nia Gwynne, Alex Hassell, Jim Hooper, Youssef Kerkour, Jennifer Kirby, Sam Marks, Keith Osborn, Leigh Quinn, Joshua Richards, Antony Sher, Simon Thorp, Trevor White, Simon Yadoo
This was the second part to last month’s Henry IV Part 1 live broadcast from the RSC. It started once again with Suzy Klein interviewing Gregory Doran, who gave a short ‘previously on Henry IV’ overview followed by a quick analysis of the changing tonality and themes in the second part compared to the first.
I thought the interval interview with Antony Sher was very interesting and maybe gave those in the audience who did not have access to these plays before a glimpse into how an actor approaches a new role. It also showed the drastic difference in voice and speech between the actor and his Falstaff.
The play itself started with a surprise (production spoilers ahead in the following two paragraphs): Antony Byrne came onto the stage in Jeans, t-shirt, biker boots, armed with a mobile phone he promptly used to snap selfies. As much as I roll my eyes over the recent selfie-craze, this was funny and a very current and relevant beginning, fitting brilliantly with ‘rumours’.
Another great moment of interweaving different settings into one scene came later in the play when Henry IV seemingly enters what we see as Mistress Quickly’s rooms where she and Doll are sleeping.
What I said about the company in my review of part 1 still holds up. Almost everyone is pulling their weight, some of the actors reappearing as different characters still panting after a quick change. Unfortunately, Alex Hassel did not convince me at all that this Hal was going to become Henry V. An overtrained lat does not a king make. In fact, it makes you look as if you were constantly bowing (bear with me, I used to do this for a living, so those things still jump out at me) which is not very kingly at all.
On the other end of the spectrum, Antony Bynre’s Pistol was a riot who had the audience in stitches and I thought Paola Dionisotti was a fantastic Mistress Quickly. Oliver Ford-Davies and Jim Hooper were hilarious as Shallow and Silence.
I would love to see this cast do Henry V, but with a different lead actor who can actually make me believe that there are people willing to follow him to their almost certain deaths.