An uncomfortable drama in the middle of the war: PATRICK MARMION sees Henry V again

Henry V (Donmar Warehouse, London)

Rating:

Verdict: Mid-tier Henry

Reviving Shakespeare’s warmonger Henry V as all hell breaks loose in Ukraine isn’t the best time.

Even with Game Of Thrones heartthrob Kit Harington in the title role, the production’s lamentations over the horrors of war are horribly overshadowed by its much more brutal reality.

Of course, when the play was scheduled last year, they couldn’t have known it would be the backdrop for the Bard’s celebration of England’s Warrior King.

Nonetheless, Harington steps fearlessly into the role.

It first presents the new King Henry as a pre-Meghan Prince Harry, dissipating his youth in nightclubs.

Reviving Shakespeare's warmonger Henry V as all hell breaks loose in Ukraine isn't the best time.  Even with Game Of Thrones heartthrob Kit Harington in the title role, the production's lamentations over the horrors of war are horribly overshadowed by its much more brutal reality.  Henry V is at Donmar Warehouse, London

Reviving Shakespeare’s warmonger Henry V as all hell breaks loose in Ukraine isn’t the best time. Even with Game Of Thrones heartthrob Kit Harington in the title role, the production’s lamentations over the horrors of war are horribly overshadowed by its much more brutal reality. Henry V is at Donmar Warehouse, London

He turns him into a Putin-like reptile, looking for excuses to invade France – before ending up as Rory Stewart, trying to sow reconciliation.

Sadly, we don’t get Harington’s smoldering Jon Snow invincibility in Game Of Thrones.

Nor does Son Henry cause the stage to shake and thunder, as the play’s chorus predicts.

But he doesn’t try to… instead, he comes across as a mid-ranking officer, trying to fit in by wearing the same combat fatigues as his men.

More detrimentally, his attempts to inflame the troops with moving speeches are undermined by a wobbly bridge, which descends for battle scenes, and a lack of sonic boom in his diction.

Max Webster’s first job as director should be to drive the plot, but his production seems more concerned with highlighting its perceived shortcomings.

Much like Roman Abramovich, it’s unclear which side Webster is on.

BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE

RIGOLETTO

Witness the Royal Opera House’s decadent production of the humdinger of an opera by Giuseppe Verdi – at the cinema.

Directed by Oliver Mears, it stars Carlos Alvarez as the court jester and Liparit Avetisyan as the evil duke.

From March 10; roh.org.uk/cinemas for details.

On the one hand, we are encouraged to laugh at Henry’s bellicose adventurism at court; on the other, we are meant to lament the brutal hanging of the unfortunate conscript Bardolph for theft, before Henry slits a prisoner’s throat in a fit of post-battle rage.

Desperate to avoid caricature, the scenes from the French court are in French, with English subtitles above the scene.

Shakespeare went to great lengths to write these verses in verse, pen and ink.

Translating them into French is not an upgrade.

Elsewhere, the production is so vigorously unstereotypical that it peddles all the new stereotypes, with the French princess (Anoushka Lewis) revealed to be a tough Gallic lady, boxing with her English teacher.

There’s a lot more fun when Webster allows his cast to play with stereotypes, especially in the clash between Steven Meo’s proud Welshman Llewellyn being mercilessly teased by Danny Kirrane’s brilliant Yorkshireman.

Otherwise, too many actors have too little understanding of the play’s vigor and humor to hold our attention for three long hours.

Fly Davis’ burnished gold panel set looks quite majestic and opens to create the St George flag with a crucifix of red lights.

But the projections on these sometimes rickety boards testify to a distrust of Shakespeare’s words to paint the scene.

One feature to unequivocally appreciate, however, is the period choral music that colors the action, especially after the battle scenes.

Adam Maxey, in particular, is an incredible bass.

Otherwise, it’s an uncomfortable and unconfident production that, through no fault of its own, is overshadowed by the continuing horrors overseas.

Imagine Michael Apted's remarkable Seven Up compressed into nearly four hours, which is enough - perhaps more than enough - to get attached to, albeit through the scattering of hundreds of well-punctuated quick exchanges of likes and yes.  Pictured: Our Generation at the Dorfman Theatre, National Theater

Imagine Michael Apted’s remarkable Seven Up compressed into almost four hours, which is enough – perhaps more than enough – to get attached to it, albeit through the scattering of hundreds of well-punctuated quick exchanges of tastes and yes. Pictured: Our Generation at the Dorfman Theatre, National Theater

Despite Covid, the children are doing well

Our Generation (Dorfman, National Theatre)

Rating:

Verdict: the teenage spirit

“My fingernails are, like, longer than my future,” Mia says in a fun, oblivious line from Our Generation, Alecky Blythe’s ambitious text-to-text that summarizes 656 hours of taped conversation with a dozen out of five teenagers. years.

Imagine Michael Apted’s remarkable Seven Up compressed into almost four hours, which is enough – perhaps more than enough – to get attached to it, albeit through the scattering of hundreds of well-punctuated quick exchanges of tastes and yes.

In the end, however, the standing ovation was as much for the superbly drilled ensemble cast of Daniel Evans playing kids, teens and teachers, as it was for the brave minds they represent…for their honesty and, quite simply, , for going through trial by Covid .

Superficially, they are a ragtag gang: evil Welsh Mia, trapped in the clutches of an abusive boyfriend; Ierum fighting back tears of determination to fit in with the paler-skinned girls; fiery Glasgow Robyn takes no prisoners; awkward brother Ali and Kardashian-mad sister Ayesha bickering over Brum; Classy, ​​privileged public school Lucas rivals his smart older brothers; Kosovar-British Breathing Baseball Luan; Wheelchair user Taylor is aiming for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

“My fingernails are, like, longer than my future,” Mia says in a fun, oblivious line from Our Generation, Alecky Blythe’s ambitious text-to-text that summarizes 656 hours of taped conversation with a dozen out of five teenagers. years. Pictured: Our Generation at the Dorfman Theatre, National Theater

But beneath the bravado, their anxieties are the same, the same old ones: appearance, identity, relationships, exams and hormones. And then Covid.

The stark difference between this generation and most of the audience is that we didn’t have the added and, for some, unbearable pressure of growing up on our cell phones, communicating on Snapchat, having our popularity systematically measured by “like” on Instagram. and getting locked in when we should have been there, spreading hesitant wings.

Unfortunately, they have nothing original or surprising to say about it. For now, anyway.

In Blythe’s stunning London Road, music elevated the banality of what locals had to say about the murders of sex workers in Ipswich into a thrilling theatrical realm. As appealing as these kids are, Our Generation isn’t going anywhere new thematically or dramatically. Yet it is like a valuable, living documentary of our time. Yeah.

BROWN GEORGINE

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