Theatre Review: Henry V

Shakespeare is a serious business, so why was there so much laughter in the theatre? It is because director Megan Dansie is not afraid to treat the script with the irreverence it occasionally deserves.

By

Presented by University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
Reviewed 6 May 2017

Shakespeare is a serious business, so why was there so much laughter in the theatre? It is because unlike so many ‘serious’ directors, Megan Dansie is not afraid to treat the script with the irreverence it occasionally deserves. She doesn’t lose the funny bits! Don’t get me wrong this is a history play and as such has speeches of import and those are treated as they deserve, but the Bard wrote some great comic characters.

Dansie has made some clever cuts and changes, seamless enough to be difficult to spot until examined closer. The placing of the setting in a PTSD therapy group and using the therapist as Chorus works surprisingly well and fades as the play progresses. The lack of set pieces and the simplistic costumes with red for the English and blue for the French helps identify the many doublings and treblings that occur. Richard Parkhill’s lighting and Tim Allan’s sound design are apt and compliment the bare setting.

In the title role Nick Duddy is convincing as the young King who must grow up quickly. He delivers the speeches well and is capable of the ‘common touch’ and is ably supported by the great character actors that surround him and play so many different parts. Peter Davies is Chorus and his clear delivery helps to pinpoint where and when we are. Georgia Stockham gives us a bawdy Mistress Quickly, Rambures (in the ranks) and the French Queen, about as varied as it gets.

The serious nobles like Cambridge (Geoff Dawes), Grey (Matthew Chapman), Gloucester (Rose Harvey) and Exeter (Steve Marvanek) were all they should be, but the commoners took the field. The ‘fools’ scene was a gem with actors like Tony Busch (Bardolph), Lindsay Dunn (Nim) and Gary George (Pistol) extracting every ounce of humour. The later comic scene with Matt Houston doing a beautifully overblown Welsh accent as Fluellen whilst he argued with Busch’s Irishman (a change from the later Sir Thomas) and an unintelligible Scotsman (Dylan O’Donnell) got even greater laughs.

Other players did well, Angel Short as Alice, Ellie McPhee as Katherine with delightful French accent, the haughty demeanour of the Dauphin, Dylan O’Donnell and Guy Henderson as Boy. The entire cast are at home with the language and can convey the meaning with ease, a rare treat with Shakespeare. This is a performance not to be missed!

Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Twitter: @franeds

Venue: Little Theatre University of Adelaide
Season: 6 -20 May 2017
Duration: 3 hr
Tickets: Adult $28 Conc $23
Bookings: www.trybooking.com/PAPC

 

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