‘That was incredible’ two teenage boys enthusiastically gushed to their parents as they shuffled out of the auditorium. It’s not something you expect to hear after almost THREE HOURS of Shakespeare, but Henry V at The Barn Theatre, we discovered, is not your average rendition of the Bard’s 1599 play.
Described as exploring the conflict between tradition and modernity in Britain through the lens of a nation at war, The Barn Theatre’s rugged, modern production of Henry V is packed with explosive energy, sensational choreography and some bloody loud bangs.
Part of the #builtbybarn series, the production directed by Hal Chambers is powerful, fresh and poignant – and we particularly enjoyed the use of clever video montages, high-energy music and strobe lighting, as well as the actors’ interaction with the audience.
Aaron Sidwell in the title role proved an impressive tour de force. Totally fearless, committed and frighteningly precise, the former EastEnders star shone on the stage: transitioning from the hard-partying city boy into the soldiering king of England with vigor, brutality and charm.
Sidwell gave one of the clearest demonstrations of quality acting we have genuinely experienced on the stage. With the seven additional members of the cast, meanwhile, also giving strong performances: with Lauren Samuels’ coquettish Princess Katharine particularly performed with multilingual aplomb.
While Shakespeare’s language and symbolism has been preserved, Henry V at The Barn Theatre managed to feel accessible. And, in Brexit-Britain, more relevant than ever.
Despite balking at the two-hours and 40-minute running time prior to being seated, thanks to the fast pace, hints of Black Mirror comedy, and a boxset-binge compulsion to see the story through, it all concluded in a thoroughly entertaining evening of modern theatre. The likes of which we are still shocked to experience in Cirencester.
It wasn’t just the teenagers who thought Henry V was incredible…
With tickets costing £10 each, and family tickets costing £30, Henry V gives an affordable opportunity to experience modern live theatre and a novel chance to prize teenagers away from Netflix.
By Michelle Fyrne
Monday 17 June 2019
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