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Henry V at the Little Theatre - Review

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
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Once more unto the breach with Henry V -
Nick Duddy as Henry V - powerful performance delivered with sincere conviction.

Once more Megan Dansie directs another successful Shakespearean production of Henry V at the Little Theatre.

First performed around 1599, Henry V celebrates the British victory at the famous Battle of Agincourt against France in 1415, during the Hundred Year's War. Following the death of King Henry IV, his son, the young King Henry V, assumes the throne. An insulting message sent by the Dauphin of France gives cause for Henry V to invade France. But before embarking upon an invasion he needs to gain the respect of his subjects and live down his wild wayward past of consorting with drunkards and thieves in a tavern. His invasion involves everyone in England, including his former friends from the tavern. Against unbelievable odds, Henry V's army of men from all over Britain conquer the French, even though they are outnumbered by the French five to one.

Megan Dansie has taken a new approach with Henry V with her inclusion of actors acting as patients and family members with PTSD (Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder) who perform Henry V as they deal with their trauma of war and confronting their past actions.

Once more unto the breach with Henry V -
Peter Davies as the Therapist with the PTSD Group. Photo courtesy of UATG.

The play opens with the cast performing as if they are members of a PTSD therapy group. In contemporary dress, they are scattered across the stage. There is a humorous touch when one member is needed to be reminded to turn off his mobile phone. Peter Davies as the Therapist for the PTSD patients also appears through the play, as the Chorus. His role is to guide the audience through the performance. However, there are moments when these inclusions through the play are not clear enough in their delivery and are too subtle to grasp. This confusion is compounded as many of the cast perform multiple parts as characters as well as members of the therapy group creating moments that their significance is not easy to interpret.

Being one of England's most heroic monarchs, Henry V delivers his famous St Crispin's Day Speech which motivated his army of 9,000 to face and defeat France's 36,000. As Henry V, Nick Duddy presents a challenging volume of lines with varying contrasts. He portrayed Henry V as a persuasive and strong leader.

Henry V at Little Theatre - Review
Photo courtesy of UATG

The cast performed their multiple roles convincingly with clear understanding. Both Ellie McPhee as Princess Katherine and Bedford and Angela Short as Katherine's companion Alice and Westmoreland portrayed their roles with instinctive feeling. They also along with Guy Henderson spoke French fluently. Guy was believable, sharp and humorous as Boy.

Once more
Nick Duddy as Henry V and Ellie Mc Fee as Princess Katherine. Photo courtesy of UATG

Gary George delivered a fine humorous performance as the engaging Pistol.

Lindsay Dunn's multiple performances were outstanding as Nym, the rough brute and the canny and smart, Archbishop of Canterbury, the King of France and the Duke of York.

Matt Houston his roles as Fluellen, Scroop and Orleans, was amazing and his Welsh accent and humour was outstanding and was well received by the audience.

Georgia Stockham in multiple roles as The French Queen/ Mistress Quickly/Rambures was striking whether she was warm and humane or outrageously mischievous.

I was impressed with the simple but effective use of chairs to create the effect of battlements during the battle scenes. The Director, Megan Dansie, utilised a combination of contemporary garments along with army uniforms, while maintaining a sense of the period with English and French flags. A particularly moving scene was achieved with the accompaniment on acoustic guitar by Lindsay Dunn and Guy Henderson of the song made famous by REDGUM I was only 19 .

Sound effects by Tim Allan and lighting by Richard Parkhill with impressive explosions, gunfire and sirens created an exciting atmosphere for a dramatic piece of theatre.

Theatre audiences whether they be students or Shakespearean theatregoers are bound to be impressed with this exciting story by Shakespeare and the fantastic performances by the fine cast.

Once more unto the breach with Henry V -
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Why? Wonderful opportunity to see a gripping production by a talented director and cast of what is considered to be Shakepeare's most famous play.
When: Sat. 6 May, Tues - Sat 9 -13 & 16 - 20 May 2017
Where: Little Theatre, The Cloisters (off Victoria Drive, gate 10), University of Adelaide. Ticket machine in Cloisters parking area. WE RECOMMEND YOU ALLOW EXTRA TIME FOR PARKING WHEN THERE IS AN EVENT ON AT ADELAIDE OVAL.
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