London and touring
Henry V, by William Shakespeare (Additional words by AE Housman)
An Antic Disposition production
2 hours 15 minutes, including interval.
Tour details below
Review: Tom Aitken 3 February
A rewarding production
This remarkable production was first seen in London and France in 1915, marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. Last year it toured to cathedrals in the south and west of England as part of the Shakespeare 400 celebrations.
The ‘additional words’ by A.E. Housman from his A Shropshire Lad, mentioned in the credits, are among my favourite passages in English poetry and, if it isn’t heresy to say so, in my view add depth to Shakespeare’s play. They are heard a number of times during the performance.
Here they are:
The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair,
There’s men from the barn and the forge and the mill and the fold, The lads for the girls and the lads for the liquor are there, And there with the rest are the lads who will never be old.
This, then, is a production that is more focussed on the ‘other ranks’ than usual and yet it fits very well into a basically lit (floodlights, essentially), hugely elevated cathedral knave. The audience, three rows deep, gazing in from either side, is very well catered for.
The production moves very quickly. There is little in the way of pomp but a great deal that points up the human values of people who have been driven into battle by circumstances over which they have no control.
The experience is also remarkable for its non-epic, humane and human qualities. It makes of the cathedral space a venue that is both magnificent and movingly intimate.
I’m not going to describe any performances in detail. They tell the story and give us a picture of human endeavour, which provides a vision of, perhaps we might say, secularised spirituality.
Enough! If it comes to a cathedral near you, go and see it.
King Henry V: Rhys Bevan The Duke of Exeter: Callum Coates The Earl of Westmoreland: Stephen Archbishop of Canterbury: Charles Neville Bishop of Ely: Andrew Hodges Bardolph: Adam Philps The Dauphin: Dean Riley Mistress Quickly: Louise Templeton The King of France: Maurice Byrne The Constable of France: Louis Bernard Monjoie: a herald Princess Katherine: Floriane Anderson Other roles played by members of the Company
Directors: Ben Horslen and John Riseboro Composer: Christopher Peake
Venues: 7-8 February Beverley Minster; 9 February Ripon Cathedral; 10-11 February: Southwell Minster; 13: Lincoln Cathedral; 15 February: Peterborough Cathedral; 16-17 February: Ely Cathedral; 18 February: Norwich Cathedral; 20-22 February Southwark Cathedral