Friday, 16 July 2010
Henry IV Part 1 and 2: Stunning Histories with a Gorgeous History Boy Lead
As Hal and Falstaff, Jamie Parker and Roger Allam made my day on Wednesday. They totally owned the stage, the play, the audience and all the applause with their spot-on performances.
I loved the see-saw pairing of Hotspur and Hal in the first part; both sons, both young, both learning about life: one fun, one fanatical; one slovenly, one soldierly; one reluctant hero, one pushing too hard for heroism.
In the second, the moment when Hal took his dying father's crown, placed it on his head and runs off, only to have old Henry wake up and give him a proper telling off was amazing, particularly for someone who totally didn't see it coming...
And of course, the extraordinary, bitter moment when the gorgeous History Boy Parker's Hal grows up and rejects Falstaff... well, it has me in goosebumps now, just writing about it. I can still see Allam's limp hand starting to shake against his fat thigh as the full force of what has just happened starts to sink in.
It was a long old slog, getting through both parts of Henry IV at the Globe. Don't get me wrong: the bits that were brilliant were really brilliant, but as I always think about History plays, someone should be ruthless about the cutting.
And I almost always think they should be sharper with their pruning shears for shows at the Globe too. Everyone knows I love that theatre. It's up there in my favourite places in the whole of London. But even I have to admit its not a comfy place to be. I'm sure no one would ever complain about seeing a short, snappy version of a brilliantly acted Shakespeare play, particularly if they're standing. And yet they continue to play 3-hour versions of these shows...
I suggested to MA from SOLT that they should strip out all the extra stuff, knock the two together, and create one, funny, serious, moving and pretty epic play. I'm sure he thought I was being sacrilegious. But I think it'd work perfectly.
Photo shows Jamie Parker (Prince Hal) and Roger Allam (Falstaff). Photograph by John Haynes