2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS
Shakespeare: Henry IV Part II (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Jasper Britton (Henry IV); Antony Sher (John Falstaff); Alex Hassell (Prince Hal); Paola Dionisotti (Mistress Quickly); Oliver Ford Davies (Justice Shallow); Jim Hooper (Justice Silence/Gower); Antony Byrne (Rumour/Porter/Pistol); Robert Gilbert (Travers/Sir John Coleville); Nia Gwynne (Doll Tearsheet/Lady Northumberland); Keith Osborne (Archbishop of York); Joshua Richards (Bardolph); Trevor White (Lord Mowbray);
King Henry's health isfailing as a second rebellion against his reign threatens to surface.
Intent on securing hislegacy, he is uncertain that his son Hal is a worthy heir, believing him moreconcerned with earthly pleasures than the responsibility of rule.
Sir John Falstaff is sentto the countryside to recruit fresh troops. Amongst the unwitting locals,opportunities for embezzlement and profiteering prove impossible to resist asFalstaff gleefully indulges in the business of lining his own pockets.
As the King's healthcontinues to worsen, Hal must choose between duty and loyalty to an old friend.
"Shakespeare's two greatest plays have always been a defining experience for RSC directors. Gregory Doran now puts his decisive seal on the company by offering a production that, like last year's Richard II, combines richness of texture with psychological insight. It also contains a major performance from Antony Sher as Falstaff. But, although Sher's is the dominant performance, everything in Doran's production bespeaks long-range planning. Jasper Britton's fine Henry IV is a tormented usurper, first seen prostrate in self-abasing prayer, capable of volcanic violence: his brutal treatment of Trevor White's bolshie Hotspur in the opening scenes explains the ensuing rebellion." (The Guardian ★★★★)
"Performed on the mighty thrust stage of the RSC's main house in Stratford, the productions have an admirably assured grasp of the plays' panoramic sweep, moving with fluency and a fine feel for thematic counterpoint between care-racked court and lax, frowsty Eastcheap, boozer and battlefield, urban and pastoral. Sher is surrounded by a crack company – amongst whom I particularly enjoyed Paola Dionisotti's Dot Cotton-like take on Mistress Quickly and the Shallow and Silence combo of Oliver Ford Davies and Jim Hooper who sublimely blend fathomless gloom and mad merriment. Strongly recommended." (The Independent ★★★★)
"What a walloping spectacle the Royal Shakespeare Company gives us with its two Henry IV plays. They are staged in the expansive manner, the acting fruity, the lighting full of oranges and blues. Director Gregory Doran presents the panorama of Harry Bolingbroke’s England and the maturing of his heir Hal from wastrel to monarch. Here is Shakespeare perfect for both teenagers and old romantics. We have a pulsatingly deranged Hotspur, Sir Antony Sher’s typically mannered Falstaff, some memorable cameos — and hairdos worthy of a bonkers Hollywood B film." (The Daily Mail ★★★★)
"He has played Richard III, Shylock, Leontes, Macbeth and Prospero to huge acclaim. But can Sir Antony Sher, one of our most Shakespeare-steeped theatrical knights, give us a Falstaff to remember? .... The answer is yes. A benign grin plastered on his rubicund face, this big-bearded, pot-bellied knave is first seen emerging from the bedclothes under which Alex Hassell’s lusty Harry has been romping with two maids ... Jasper Britton’s anguished Henry, Trevor White’s mad-eyed (if weirdly modern-haired) Hotspur and Sam Marks’s Poins, in full bromance mode with Hal, while Paola Dionisotti’s Mistress Quickly is a touching, busybody delight." (The Daily Telegraph ★★★★)
"Visually Greg Doran's new production is a treat. There are elements that recur from the recent successful Richard II but there is an earthiness and robustness to the design that counterparts well with the more ethereal quality of the first part of the tetralogy. At the centre of it all is the engaging and playful Hal of Alex Hassell. He wins the audience over from his first moments and he lights up the stage with all his interactions. I particularly enjoyed the close bond with Poins - played strongly by Sam Marks. Hassell is also well contrasted with Trevor White's almost manically impetuous Hotspur. Paola Dionisotti (Mistress Quickly) gives a masterclass in how to imbue a relatively minor role with richness and detail. Although she has all too little to say, she is always the most watchable person on stage. A great interpretation." (What's on Stage ★★★★)
"Antony Sher is an insatiable and ebullient Falstaff. It's a performance that combines clarity and complexity — fruity, throaty, here and there a little overripe but always generous and detailed. He captures the warmth of Shakespeare's famously flawed knight — his delight in excess, blustering vitality and sparks of youthful exuberance. And even when he's at his most outrageous, Sher's Falstaff wears the expression of an affronted storyteller who can't quite believe that we don't find him winningly modest." (The Evening Standard ★★★★)
"Opening in the run-up to the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, these productions are a real treat: intelligent, accessible and superbly performed. Sher’s Falstaff is a joy, but the same can be said about so much of both these productions." (The Stage)