Star rating – 8/10
Cards on the table – I love this play. It reminds me of when my eldest son was 5 and enjoyed nothing more than dressing up like a knight and watching alternate versions of it. Kenneth Branagh and Laurence Oliver were certainly staples in our house for a while about 20 years ago. Happy memories....
But apart from my maternal nostalgia, it is a cracking play, and the Globe Theatre have certainly got a great production of it touring the country before taking it to their home this summer. Jamie Parker is suitably regal and commanding as the warrior king. He should be used to playing him now, as he was the same Prince Hal in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 at The Globe in summer 2010. But his former life of debauchery has most definitely been left behind, as he inspires his ‘happy few’ soldiers to a heroic victory against the mighty French armies on the fields at Agincourt.
It must be difficult to follow in such large footsteps, but Parker largely gets the tone just right. Not copying the previous deliveries of the more famous speeches, but stamping his own brand on them. The battle scenes are well played – always tricky in such a small space – damn that writer!
The whole cast is excellent, but special mentions should go to Brendan O’Hea as the amusing and verbose Welshman Fluellen, and to Brid Brennan as the narrator who persuasively and gently guides the audience through the fast paced action. Great entertainment, comedy and drama all rolled into one package.