by William Shakespeare.
Theatre Delicatessen Marylebone Gardens 35 Marylebone High Street W1U 4QA To 30 June 2012.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: Theatredelicatessen.co.uk | @theatredeli | #Henry V
Review: Jenny Greenwood 29 May.
The staging is the thing.
This production of Henry V begins as soon as you walk through the door. After saluting one army officer, we are led downstairs by another, past bunk beds and huddled groups of soldiers, into our “quarters”, to take our seats.
Katharine Heath’s design is brilliantly ambitious. The audience is perched sporadically on small stools, at tables and on hessian cushions, a feet away from the action. In the corners beds are erected, with small tables, side lamps and pictures of loved ones stuck to the wall.
The acting is generally very good, particularly from Philip Desmeules as Henry V. He manages to convey both the softness and strength in the king’s character, and speaks the language fluidly, with a remarkable ability to convey meaning through his tone.
Another stand-out performance comes from Liam Smith, who transforms from the rough talking Pistol into the King of France in the time it takes to change his coat.
On some occasions the set seems to overpower the acting, as in Henry’s famous “once more unto the breach” speech, beautifully delivered but diluted by the lack of focus as Desmeules has to spread his attention in so many different directions. The same can be said for the sound effects, with the boom of guns interrupting and at times drowning out the actors’ voices.
Theatre Delicatessen have succeeded in their aim of transforming the former BBC Headquarters into a war zone to great effect. If as much attention had gone into the play itself as was put into the design, this Henry V might have been a masterpiece.
Henry V: Philip Desmeules.
Exeter/Bardolph/Sir Thomas Erpingham: Tom Daplyn.
Pistol/Charles VI: Liam Smith.
Chorus/Ambassadors/Montjoy/Burgundy: Alexander Guiney
Hostess/Gower/Salisbury/Isabel: Margaret- Ann Bain.
Sir Thomas Grey/Dauphin/Williams: Chris Polick.
Archbishop of Canterbury/Lord Scroop/Fluellen: Christopher Tester.
Constable of France/Nym/York/Governor of Harfleur: Neil Connolly.
Bishop of Ely/Bedford/Orleans: Isaac Jones.
Katherine/Gloucester: Laura Martin-Simpson.
Boy/Courtier/Cambridge: Zimmy Ryan.
Westmoreland/Bates/Alice: Jessica Guise.
Director: Roland Smith.
Designer: Katharine Heath.
Lighting: William Reynolds.
Sound: Fergus Waldron.
Assistant Director: Hannah Joss.