Royal Shakespeare Company: Henry IV Part I


Comedy / Drama / History

IMDb Rating 8.3/10 10 48 48

Plot summary

May 07, 2023 at 09:49 AM


Gregory Doran

Top cast

Alex Hassell as Prince Hal
Sean Chapman as Northumberland / Earl of Douglas
Elliot Barnes-Worrell as Prince John / Francis
Youssef Kerkour as Westmoreland
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1.51 GB
English 2.0
25 fps
2 hr 48 min
P/S ...
2.8 GB
English 2.0
25 fps
2 hr 48 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by / 10

Reviewed by proteus6847 4 / 10


I don't care much for little Falstaffs: they're a contradiction in terms. Antony Sher is too small for the part in every sense (height, girth, personality), and his old-man's voice is not fooling anyone. But he's a good comic actor; he gets his laughs; and he's endearing the way a leprechaun is endearing. Ever since Richard III (1984), Sher's audience has been waiting for lightning to strike again. His Falstaff does not constitute a second bolt, but it's nothing to be ashamed of. And if we must have puny Falstaffs, I will gladly take Sher's rendition over the scabrous and joyless performance of Simon Russell Beale, who looked like a garden gnome with its paint flaking off.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 8 / 10

Not much uneasy about this crown

Shakespeare's historical plays have as much interest value as his comedies and tragedies and should be known more, 'Richard III' being the best known of them perhaps namely for the title character. Written in two parts, 'Henry IV Part I' (actually both parts) is definitely no exception to that and mixes comedy and drama expertly. Of the two parts, talking about the plays and not quite yet the production, there is a slight personal preference for the richer second part.

There have been many very impressive productions of Shakespeare from the Royal Shakespeare Company captured on DVD, both the very famous and frequently adapted and the not so iconic or often performed. 2014's 'Henry IV Part 1' is one of them, same goes for Part 2 from the same year and also available on DVD. The DVD competition is not massive but all available are more than worthy. The BBC Television Shakespeare production from the late 70s is very good and remember the one with Roger Allam being very good, but my personal favourite is the one from 'The Hollow Crown' (same for Part 2).

Royal Shakespeare Company's production of 'Henry IV Part 1' has much to recommend, but it is not quite perfect. It is a bit static and slow to start with, the scene with Henry and Westmoreland could have done with more momentum.

Also found the interaction between Henry and Hal a good deal more powerful in the 'The Hollow Crown' adaptation, Jasper Britton doesn't quite have Jeremy Irons' intensity (or the same level of it) in the dressing down of Hal scene. The chemistry still convinces, it just doesn't quite have the same level of power.

However, the production looks appealing. Not too elaborate but there is not a shoestring budget look. This is helped by the very atmospheric lighting, especially in the latter parts. And also the video directing which is neither chaotic or static, actually found its intimacy very effective and makes one feel like they are there. A great experience to feel and in a way that's accessible financially and in location. The music is not discordant with the action and is not too loud or over-used, the sound effects not being cheap and having eeriness.

Really loved the stage direction on the whole, which did really well at opening up the drama and making it cohesive and accessible for those not familiar with the play (and not everybody will be). Loved the relationship between Hal and Falstaff, the most important relationship to get right with it featuring the most prominently, with it being a lot of fun to watch without being overdone. The comedy and drama balances expertly, one not dominating the other. The comedy is tastefully done and not clownish as well as inducing a lot of big laughs. The drama is intense and poignant, one of the staging highlights being the climactic battle. A scene that could easily have been clumsily done but was actually thrilling and nail-biting and the chemistry between Hal and Hotspur equally captivates.

Can find little to fault the performances for. Britton is a suitably anguished and brooding Henry and Alex Hassell has boyish charisma and has a natural presence and relatability as Hal. Trevor White may divide viewers with the production's different and not quite as fully fleshed out to usual portrayal of Hotspur but he sears and seethes in the role, especially in the climax. Nia Gwynne is a touching Lady Mortimer. Stealing the show is Anthony Sher's Falstaff, the most important character to nail with, despite not being the title character, the largest role in the play. He plays the character with so much gusto and towering presence without over-acting.

Overall, very good with many flashes of greatness. 8/10

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