(Peter Crawley’s article appeared in The Irish Times, 5/18.)
There’s nothing quite as beautiful, or as torturous, as the crown of England we see in Druid’s remarkable staging of Shakespeare’s Henriad, its four plays carved into a lean and propulsive telling by Mark O’Rowe. Francis O’Connor’s creation is emblematic of his industrial and earthy set and, you feel, the entire undertaking: a garland of gilded roses held within a golden crown of thorns. Uneasy lies the head that wears it.
In these plays of usurpation and fractious succession, the whole idea of kingly rule is reordered, from a divine right to a righteous challenge, then waves of rebellion and warfare. A power once conferred from above begins to swell from the ground up. Kings must become human.