Barn Theatre, Cirencester – until 22 June 2019
Shakespeare’s plays are a regular feature in the theatrical circuit but the Barn Theatre has switched it up by modernising and refreshing Henry V to make it appealing to a younger audience, as well as Shakespeare enthusiasts. Whilst the play has been brought to a more modern time, it maintains the classic Shakespeare feel.
The design by Benjamin Collins utilises technology through video projection which creates a visceral experience as it bombards up with varying imagery that flashes before our eyes. Familiar images pop up as the King’s death is played on a news channel and ambassadors meet in a staged fashion. The new king Harry is also shown living it up with his people as he drinks and sways among strobes and techno music.
Aaron Sidwell brings a charisma alongside a darkness to the title role as he charms those around him, whilst fighting for what he believes is right. He wises up through his journey as a leader and realises the importance of amity as he extends an olive branch to Katherine after the slaughter of her people.
The eight-strong cast do a fantastic job of keeping their energy extremely high throughout. Their swift moments and precise transitions are incredibly well carried out as they bring varying character to life through action which even spreads to the audience at times. This production cleverly balances high intensity and noise, with moments of calm and serenity. Mention must go to Lauren Samuels who is endearing and humours as her various characters and speaks French like she’s a native.
The Barn Theatre’s Henry V is an inventive and entertaining treat. A strong, well directed cast bring a classic to life with a verve and energy that should be seen and appreciated.
Henry V runs at the Barn Theatre until 22nd June 2019
photo credit: Eve Dunlop