(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/30.)
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen three very different versions of the scene in Henry IV Part II, in which the future Henry V tries on his ailing father’s crown. And not a single one of them was exactly as it appears on the page. One was in The Famous Victories of Henry V, created for the RSC’s First Encounters programme, which cleverly takes a knife to both text and plot in a significantly pared-down version of both parts of Henry IV, plus Henry V. The second was near the beginning of Ivo van Hove’s Kings of War, performed in Dutch, which condenses several of Shakespeare’s plays to explore the nature of kingship and the responsibilities of leaders. The last was on Sunday night, watching some of Forced Entertainment’s table-top Shakespeare live-streamed on the Guardian’s website. Were any of these performances less Shakespearean than a full, uncut performance of the original text in English? I’d say a resounding no.