Henry V, Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Serious and comical, historical and contemporary, John Dane's Henry V is full of invention. Too full, perhaps, just as it is over punctuated, not to say perforated with pauses.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Serious and comical, historical and contemporary, John Dane's Henry V is full of invention.

Too full, perhaps, just as it is over punctuated, not to say perforated with pauses.

Thoughtfulness is one thing, apparent hesitancy another, especially in this most rhetorical of plays.

The violence comes across only too well, in savage beatings and billows of smoke, as well as the thunder of modern battle. What is missing is the style and elegance with which Shakespeare invested his account of war.

Gradually, though, the text comes out, and Richard Pryal's Henry fills his lungs for the organ tones of his royal oratory. The pity is that he gabbles his vital speech on the night before Agincourt.

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Terry Cant cannot reach the heights as Burgundy, which muffles the final scene, and the choruses are not really helped either by an excess of theatrical ingenuity or by a policy of undermining what they say. In accord with Elizabethan practice, women's roles are assigned to male actors. Though this raises a few guffaws from Maddermarket regulars, it would be hard to say if some deeper point is being made.

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