Henry V (2020): Maltings Open Air Theatre Festival, St. Albans
PrHenry V (2020)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Luke Adamson (Fluellen); Mara Allen (Henry V); Rachel Fenwick (Katherine); Paula Gilmour (Bardolph); Cassandra Hodges (Chorus); Jack Reitman (King of France).
This production ran from 14-31 August 2020.
Information on this production comes from Theatre Record, therefore it may be incomplete.
"Matthew Parker's production locates itself firmly in the coming of age aspects of this story - which shows Prince Hal...having matured from boy to man, self-indulgent prince to noble king....Parker has devised a meta-theatrical conceit of a school production of Shakespeare's play and introduces (and reassures) with considerable detail about how social distancing is being observed....I'm not convinced the school play device is an entirely necessary choice, but the youthful and talented cast, together with the comic drive of this production, make an excellent and accessible entree for young people to Shakespeare and the conceit adds a level of gaity consistent with an outdoor festival designed to be fun. Parker has shortened the play to a 90-minute experience which runs straight through without an interval. He has chosen to amp up the comedy and deliver big choreographed battle scenes with an affecting use of Stormzy's 'Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown'...along with other pop songs....Recent RADA graduate Mara Allen takes the titular role and shows great energy, commitment and range in a highly physical and masterful vocal performance." ~ Mary Beer, Londontheatre1.com
"On the whole, the metatheatrical approach works, with the pupils throwing on vests, dresses and crowns and seamlessly shifting between roles. But, when the actors shout 'social distancing' to stop certain performers becoming too close, such as when Henry (Mara Allen) leans in to give his bride-to-be Princess Katherine (Rachel Fenwick) a kiss, it reveals the production's self-conscious awareness of its limitations and needlessly spoils the scene. While Allen delivers Henry's rousing speeches with authority, some of the smaller roles offer more memorable moments, such as Katherine's humorous English lessons from her maid Alice." ~ Olivia Rook, The Stage, 17 August 2020
"Henry V, in which Harry once more rains death on the French at Agincourt, is presented as a school production...with loose ties, backchat and teachers trying to get down with the kids. Cricket bats are used as English weapons, while the French get tennis rackets; and mops become cavalry horses. Mara Allen's easy-going Henry could work on her ferocity, but it's not taken too seriously, and the tone is set by a running joke about Stormzy's Heavy is the Head" ~ Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail, 21 August 2020