Paris yes but first Henry V!

I have arrived safely in Paris but before beginning that story I would like to finish Shakespeare’s “Cycle of Kings” with Henry V performed yesterday at the Barbican Theater in London.  “Oh for a muse of fire…” those first few words of the chorus that introduces us to the play Henry V.  As wonderfully performed as this version of Henry V is, by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Lawrence Olivier in his 1940s film version will always be my favorite Henry V.  The play from which such common phrases such as “once more unto the breech” and “band of brothers” originated tells the story of Henry’s great triumph over the French at Agincourt and his subsequent uniting of the two kingdoms by his marriage to Katherine of Valois.  Nobly acted by Alex Hassel and a superb supporting cast this play is all about Henry and his quest to be King of both England and France, according to what he perceives as his birthright.  Lighting, costumes, music and sets all contribute to an excellent performance but as the chorus goes on to suggest, it is difficult to portray a great battle between two great armies in a theater play and that is my real problem with any staging of this final play in Shakespeare’s so-called “Cycle of Kings” although more Kings were to come from Shakespeare in the form of Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3, Richard III and the lesser known Henry VIII.  I have actually had my fill of “The Bard” for awhile and look forward to Paris!  Coming soon….!!

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