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October 28, 2009 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Henry the Sixth, Part One


I love Shakespeare and it is David Lawrence’s fault. I was lucky enough to grow up, to mature theatrically that is to say, when the Bacchanals had a Shakespeare, if not two, on show every year. To say they were good is to understate the issue, to say they were great would be to miss the point. They were rough, ready and wonderful.

They were present and wonderfully alive. They were quick, often without cuts, funny and kinda perfect. And they’re back.

There was a break, a bit of break for a few years there. David Lawrence director to the Bacchanals as Mark E. Smith is singer to the Fall directed much other commendable work around town (he gave us Crave, he gave us ID and if you didn’t see those, you’re not worth knowing) and that was all well and good but it… it wasn’t Shakespeare. The wait ended with his, in retrospect slightly problematic but still fun, Henry V and now, here to prove that that was not just a blip, not just a passing moment of awesome, we have been gifted his Star Wars of the Roses. A project in collaboration with the newly formed Vic Shakespeare Society amusingly named ‘Shakespeare’s Historys Are Great’, to put on the original quadrilogy of Shakespeare’s histories (Henry VI Parts One through Three and Richard III) one at a time. We can rejoice!

As an opening act in this ambitious theatric saga, Henry the Sixth Part One (that’s 1HenryVIto the cool kids) shows us the wonderful promise and strength of what is to come. While now the raw energy and frayed edges that made David Lawrence’s Shakespeare in the past so livable and brilliant have perhaps lopsided a little into a lower, less co-ordinated university theatre level that can only be forgiven and somewhat expect considering the new collaborators and it never distracts from the joy of the show.

It is as true of 1HenryVI as of any of Shakespeare’s histories (excepting maybe Henry V and Richard III) that the story is your biggest issue. The plays were written with the assumption that the audience would have at least somewhat of a knowledge of the events under discussion, this is very not true of a modern audience. Dribbling ignoramuses that we are. 1HenryVIgreatest strength, beyond its astonishing fight choreography by Allan Henry, is how simply, directly and efficiently it just tells the story. Using easy to understand visual motifs to dennotate the various and multiple factions that war throughout the work.

The acting was great, the text was Shakespeare, the set was there. The completion of this saga will surely not be missed.

Wars of the Roses – Henry the Sixth, Part One
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by David Lawrence
With Walter Plinge, Allan Henry, Alex Greig, Alison Walls, Jacob Weatherhead, Thomas Horder, Salesi Le’ota, Anais Alcorn Goldsmith, James Barber, Daniel Watterson, Lori Leigh, Eleanor Stewart, Jackson Coe, Melanie Duncan, Hannah McKie, Blair Everson, Jess Aaltonen, Alice Lean, Kirsty Bruce, Emma Rose Luxton, Ralph Upton, Laura Feslier, Louise Burston and Brooke Smith-Harris

Part of the 2009 Compleate Workes Festival

At the Victoria University Union Hall
12 – 14 Oct 2009

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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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