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Henry IV Part I

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
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Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble do Shakespeare in the Park
A great little treat in the theatre year is always Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble's annual theatre in the park production which showcases a wide range of The Bard's plays, with this year being Henry IV Part I.

About the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble

The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble was founded in 2001 and has gained a great reputation, as a place for young talent to study Shakespearean acting as well as productions that combine the experienced actors and mentors of the ensemble with great young upcoming performers. Beyond this they also have done work in prisons, giving prisoners a voice and self-confidence through teaching them acting.

What you need to know about Henry IV Part I

Henry IV part one is part of the Henriad of Historical plays written by Shakespeare that include Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and Henry V. This is often considered to be Shakespeare epic work culminating the hero of Prince Hal/Harry (who becomes Henry V in the last play of the series).

A lithograph image depicting a scene from King Henry IV Part I
A lithograph image depicting a scene from King Henry IV Part I

Henry IV part 1 tells the story of the king dealing with a rebellion and other unrest in the kingdom, but it also acts as a coming of age story for the young Prince Hal, who is given to drinking and joking, but who will on to become Shakespeare's great English hero in subsequent plays. Not only is this a chapter in an epic tale, but there is also that very personal element of the story as well.

Rehearsals for Henry IV part I
Rehearsals for Henry IV part I

In many ways, these plays are part of the mythology of Tudor England which sees the preceding 15th century as a dark and lawless time with war, rebellion and the politics of violence, but which eventually the Golden Age of Tudor England. In other words, if you enjoyed the ever-popular Henry V it is worth checking out the other works in the series.

About the production

Billed as Shakespeare in the park, the production is located at the Roma Street Parklands Amphitheatre. The audience gets to sit on the stage surrounding the actors, looking out over the parklands. This means that even when it is raining, you will be dry. But bring a jacket because August can still be cold at night.

Seating for the audience is undercover and out of the rain, but not out of the wind
Seating for the audience is undercover and out of the rain, but not out of the wind

Often the production makes good use of the setting, staging part of the production in the parklands behind them when possible, and definitely allowing actors to enter from many different angles. Depending on the play and production, it can be a combination of an intimate play with an epic setting.

The Roma Street Parklands Amphitheatre
The Roma Street Parklands Amphitheatre

Also part of the production is the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble's band, which will usually play while people are getting seating, during the break and provide a lot of incidental music during the play. Ultimately the copious use of live music will add energy to the productions.

Performance times

Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights the play will start at 7:30 pm. On Wednesday night it will be 6:30 pm and Sunday it will be 6 pm. There is also a Saturday Matinee at 2 pm.

Before the play

On nights with a 7:30 pm performance you will probably be looking for a place to eat nearby for a quick meal before the play and for the earlier performances, you will likely want to eat afterwards. The restaurant options around the area are limited but getting better all the time. Some stand out options is the Gazebo Bar and Restaurant, or Fresco's for modern Australian cuisine, Farah Restaurant for Persian food, or head up to Boundary Street for Japanese, Thai, pizza and Creole places.

If you are going for a Saturday Matinee, you can also have a picnic or barbecue in the park. Roma Street Parklands allows you to bring your own alcohol at the Lakes Barbecue Area. There are also other picnic and barbecue areas around the park. If the weather is good, this is a great way to have a cheap meal and drink beforehand.

Cooking at the Lakeside Barbecues at Roma Street Parkalnds
Cooking at the Lakeside Barbecues at Roma Street Parkalnds

There is normally a coffee van at the venue, so you can get coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a muffin before the show or at half time.

Getting there

Roma Street Parkland is in a nice central location with Roma Street Station next door, though you still have to walk through the park from the station to the amphitheatre. You can also walk from Normanby bus station and there are a few buses that stop near the theatre that leaves from the city.

Parking is usually not a problem in the evening with plenty of car park locations. With luck you might try to find a place to park along Wickham Terrace near the theatre location.


These great productions are a unique and affordable opportunity to see Shakespeare on the stage. Because they focus on such a wide range of plays, it is a chance to see something a little different from The Bard.

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*Roy Chambers was invited as a guest
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Why? Great Shakespeare in the park
When: Wed: 6:30 pm, Thu, Fri, Sat: 7:30 pm, Sun: 6 pm. Sat Matinee: 2 pm
Where: Roma Street Parklands Amphitheatre, nearest entrance off Wickham Terrace gate 6
Cost: $28-35
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