Henry IV Review: Varsity 5 Stars

Henry IV Part I

Nicholas Ashurst is impressed with this highly professional production
5 stars

“Henry IV Part I is one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays – combining the rustic joviality of the tavern with the political intrigue of the court. The choice of play is a bold one. It comes hot off the heels of the acclaimed RSC production starring Anthony Sher, but Jamie Armitage’s production is no less worthy of praise because of this. Indeed, it is a highly professional production that is built on a solid foundation of strong acting and clever direction.


Photo credit J. Hjorth

Particularly worthy of praise are Marco Young and Tim Atkin as Hal and Falstaff. The two shine both individually and as an effective double act, bringing both humour and poignancy to the roles. Young brings energy and extraordinary depth to the character of Hal, successfully tracking his arc from a debauched rogue to a heroic prince, whilst Atkin offers an original and refreshing take on the role of Falstaff. Part of the success of the production was the all-round strength of the cast – despite its large size there was not one weak link. Emma Blacklay-Piech’s performance of Worcester was captivating and Kyle Turakhia excelled in the roles of both Northumberland and Francis, despite the two being completely opposite characters. Every character in the production had been finely tuned and carefully constructed.

The driving force of the play was clearly Armitage’s stellar direction. His decision to stage the play in a traditional setting was brave, given the current trend of updating classic plays, but was also sensible. The more original aspects of his directing style imbued the conventional setting with plenty of new energy and vigour. Indeed the traditional set greatly enhanced the production, giving it a professionalism rarely seen in student theatre, although it was a shame that the different levels of the impressive physical structure were not used to greater effect. The dance during the curtain call, as would have been seen in the original production, was a fantastic ending. Another shrewd decision was to adjust the ending of the play to enable it to stand alone without its second part. Hal’s rejection of Falstaff, usually found at the end of Part II, was relocated to the end of Part I to complete the portrayal of Hal’s redemption.

Overall, this is a fantastic production of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. It was polished, humorous, poignant and highly professional. The energy and enthusiasm throughout never fail to hold the audience’s attention, at times resulting in raucous laughter. Cambridge, for this hugely impressive production, is too small a bound.”

For original article see here.