Henry VI trilogy, The Globe, London. July 2013
I think it is fair to say that The Globe Theatre doesn't have the reputation for being the most comfortable theatre. Deciding to see three plays in a day there had lots of people laughing very hard at Rebecca and I as we planned our weekend.
The thing is that if a play is good you forget your surroundings entirely and any discomfort fades away totally.
I'm pleased to say that the Henry VI trilogy fell firmly into the second category and for over 9 hours on Saturday I was living in the world of Henry VI totally.
A small cast acted their socks off all day. Apart from Henry VI himself all of the actors doubled/tripled/quadrupled up and we travelled from France to all areas of England, fought battles, saw treason and experienced the struggles of the throne.
I was spell bound from start to finish, the use of the stage was clever and with simple tabard changes actors became French, supporters of the House of Lancaster and then supporters of the House of York. Simple application of face paint made it easy to identify the sides in battle scenes.
Although almost the simplest part to play I found the way Graham Butler played Henry VI captivating. At first he was like a child - at the sign of conflict he would scamper to protected places or climb high on the set to avoid the trouble. When meeting his bride to be for the first time he is shy and while she is waiting for a meaningful kiss he puts an embarrassed peck on her forehead. Later on his love for her has grown but he is weak enough that he's content to be lead by her and by the end it is clear that all he wants is to be left alone with his religious works.
My other favourite was Brendan O'Hea who played Richard Plantagenet through the three plays and then in the final play created a stonking Lewis XI, but all of the cast were so good it does feel wrong to praise any of them above the others!
The body count in a play about almost civil war was high but as in Macbeth there was very limited use of stage blood - to the extent that in the one place it is used I was incredibly moved and had a lump in my throat.
Seeing 3 plays in a day was in some ways insanity but with plays of this calibre it was in fact a treat. My one wish...that Richard III was still being performed as this trilogy lead perfectly into that play and I'd love the chance to see it again!
being a good Norfolk girl I did of course like seeing Suffolk's head being chopped off!