Thursday, May 17, 2012

Henry I pt 6 (no wait...strike that, reverse it)

Wow, that was different! We watched the BBC Shakespeare's Henry VI pt 1. This is where director Jane Howell was able to have something like a "rep company" to stage Shakespeare's "War of the Roses" tetralogy. (Yeah, I think that word ought to be "quadrilogy" too.)

The set looked like nothing more than Sesame Street, with big, brightly painted, rainbow-colored wooden doors on a sort of children's playground. And the tone was strangely light, even silly, evoking Monty Python much more than did John Cleese in "Taming of the Shrew". It was diverting, certainly, and a very bold choice to treat a "history play" in an almost farcical manner. It felt like it worked pretty well right up until things got really serious with the death of Talbot's son. Trevor Peacock was wonderfully moving as Talbot, but it seemed incongruous to have the scene happening on Sesame Street.

Anyway, the Henry VI plays are hardly ranked among Shakespeare's best, and I'm grateful that Howell (an excellent director for TV) kept things engaging and moving. Actually looking forward to part 2!

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