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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Theatre - Henry IV Part 1 - The Globe

Star rating – 9/10

I was not familiar with this Shakespearean historical play before tonight, and consequently did not appreciate just how funny it was going to be. This is a comic gem of a drama, combined with a bit of treason, treachery and a bloody good fight – now what more can a girl ask for?

Roger Allam as Falstaff, the bloated, cheating, lazy, lying side kick of the wayward Prince Henry, is outstandingly funny. For avid fans of ‘The Thick of It’ like yours truly, it was a treat to see him out of his role of Shadow Minister Peter Mannion. And he has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he leads the prince, played by Jamie Parker, to a life of debauchery, much to the annoyance of his father the King. This is not the hero of Agincourt, at least not until later in the play when Henry realises the error of his ways, returns the money he has helped to steal to its rightful owners, and generally got his act together as the heir to the throne.

This is a long play – three hours of laughter and high drama, including the interval. But the Globe audience were not weary by the end of the evening. In fact they were looking forward to the second instalment of the story when Part 2 is staged as part of this great Globe summer season. This is the third play I have seen here in a few weeks, and good as Henry VIII, and great as Macbeth were, Henry IV Part 1 triumphs over them both.

Full marks of course to the bard for the wonderful writing, to director Dominic Dromgoole for a superb production, but really the star of tonight’s show was the wonderful Roger Allam. Roll on Part 2...

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