Henry V

Commemorating 600 years since the battle of Agincourt and the centenary of WW1 comes a new production Henry V from Antic Disposition whose speciality is productions in historic spaces. The stunning surroundings of Temple Church is a very apt setting given the heroic heritage of the church as the home of the crusading knights Templar.

The strengths of this production lie in its slick and innovative use of Temple Church. The lighting transforms the entire space from a church to a theatre and the company cleverly incorporate the features of the building into their performance.

The story focuses on the legendary battle of Agincourt that makes King Henry V the heir to the French throne. The play sees the unruly young prince Hal from Shakespeare’s earlier history plays grow to maturity as a Christian leader.

There are many themes in Henry V that make it uncomfortable for a modern audience, not least its glorification of war. Antic Disposition choose to tackle this through imagining the play is being performed by French and English soldiers fighting side by side in WW1. The action constantly breaks to reveal their double standard, at one point an actor even collapses from shell shock when a gun is pointed in his face. The constant illusions to WW1 draw clever but slightly obvious parallels between the two conflicts and become distracting after a while.

The strengths of this production lie in its slick and innovative use of Temple Church. The lighting transforms the entire space from a church to a theatre and the company cleverly incorporate the features of the building into their performance. The young Henry V (Freddie Stewart) is a disarming presence on stage and his princess bride Katherine (Floriane Andersen) perfectly doubles as a nurse tending to the wounded soldiers. New music inspired by Housman’s A Shropshire Lad is a highlight, simple, elegiac songs that focus on the loss of young life in war, beautifully sung in harmony. The production attempts to and is quite successful at transcending Henry V’s overtones of religious nationalism to make the play serve instead as a poignant reminder of the universal need for peace.  

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Marking both the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt and the ongoing centenary of the First World War, Antic Disposition presents a new production of Shakespeare’s Henry V in London's ancient Temple Church.

Performed by a combined cast of British and French actors led by recent RADA graduate Freddie Stewart in the title role, Antic Disposition’s uplifting production celebrates the complex historical relationship between our two nations – from the Hundred Years War to the Entente Cordiale.