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March 2, 2009 | by  | in Theatre |
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Henry V

There is a mistake often made in modern productions of Shakespeare. The directors always seem to confuse making something relatable with making something cool. Clear expression of the text is forsaken for leather and guns, yelling and lasers. It’s all Baz Luhrmann’s fault. Henry V director David Lawrence has never been one to make this mistake. His productions of Shakespeare—like his productions of anything else—have always been coloured by an intense respect for the text. His Henry V is an epic action movie of a play with a cast of tens. Not because that’s what will make it ‘cool’, ‘hip’ or ‘in’, but because that’s how the play asks to be performed.

Lawrence’s direction takes every advantage of the amphitheatre. There is action on all sides, often simultaneously, but with a clear sense of direction and focus rather than the scatter-shot head-twisting that can sometimes result from less disciplined implementation of similar staging. Henry V manages to exist in extreme close-up and wide shot at the same time, with a great air of scale. Karin Reinholt’s set extends the surroundings perfectly, creating a multitude of places for the action to take place. When it gets dark, this is more than ably assisted by Rebecca Wilson’s lighting. Katherine Beijeman and Felicity Bunny’s costumes are both striking and symbolic. Allan Henry’s—who was recently voted at the Chapman Kip awards the most dangerous weapon in Wellington theatre—fight choreography is easily among the best to grace the Wellington stage in a long time, and worth the price of admission alone.

With such a brilliant ensemble cast, it is unfair to single out performances for praise. So let it be said that, barring a dodgy accent or two, there is no weak link in this cast. They all work together to pull off a spectacle that will delight even the most jaded and cynical of theatregoers.

Henry V kicks off the Compleate Workes festival, an attempt to have all of Shakespeare’s work performed in Wellington in the year 2009. With the standard set so high, it looks like it’s going to be a very, very good year for theatre.

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by David Lawrence

With Michael Brady, Suzie Evans, Alex Rabina, Alison Walls, Louise Burston, Hannah McKie, Allan Henry, Blair Everson, Kirsty Bruce, Laura Feslier, Eleanor Stewart, Brooke Smith-Harris, Cathy Gamba, Tony Catford, Byron Abbey, Alex Greig, Fiona McNamara, Alisha Tyson, Jonny Potts, Victoria Morgan, David Goldthorpe, James Barber, Daniel Watterson, Thomas Horder, Chris Smith, Bailey McCormack, Benyamin Albert, Jack O’Donnell, Jackson Coe, Amelia Wilcox and Jessica Aaltonen.

At the Amphitheatre, 77 Fairlie Tce
13–28 February
Part of the Shakespeare Compleate Workes festival.

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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  1. Lord Scroop says:

    This is AGINCOURT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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