Henry IV, Part One (1984): Oxford Playhouse Company
PrHenry IV, Part One (1984)
PRINCIPAL CAST: John Boswall (Henry IV); Sam Dale (Hotspur); Anita Dobson (Mistress Quickly); Stanley Lloyd (Northumberland); Reginald Marsh (Sir John Falstaff); Kevin Wallace (Prince Hal).
This production played from 15 October - 3 November 1984; it also toured.
"Richard Williams's production is a dispiriting affair that seems to have no clear idea of what it wants to say or why it is doing it at all. (Except perhaps with O-levels in mind: in which case why cut such delightful scenes as the Rochester carriers or Francis the waiter with his 'Anon, anon, sir?') Marty Flood's attractive set of tattered banners over a red-stained stage (blood or sherry?) clverly embraces all the inside/outside locales from battlefield to taproom and has a good period flavour. But there is no sense of what Lancastrian rule or its enemies stand for, or of that crucial tension between order and licence....He [Reginald Marsh's Falstaff] also has the advantage of a handsome, well-conceived costume. His colleagues are less fortunate. Hal has a punk battle headdress, Lady Percy (badly spoken Seeta Indrani) is a gypsyish vivandiere inexplicably tied up in green cords..." ~ Anthony Masters, The Times, 18 October 1984
"You do not have to be a fully paid up member of the fan club to concede that the Royal Shakespeare Company has, over the past 20 years, made it virtually impossible for any other British company to compete with their productions of the histories. So it is stating the obvious that Richard Williams, newly ensconced as Oxford Playhouse's artistic director, in on a hiding to nothing with this great play. His production is competent, but really no more than that. It is set on a floor which slopes down from a wall of beaten and burnished metal (Marty Flood designs), with solid furniture carried on for the tavern scenes....Too much of Mr. Williams's production resembles a sort of Bardic souvenir shop, with its tattered banners, orange lighting and stock herald costumes." ~ Michael Coveney, Financial Times, 18 October 1984