(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/21.)

There is a moment during the final part of Ivo van Hove’s conflation of Shakespeare’s Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III when Hans Kesting’s scheming Richard tries on the crown for size. He capers around like a gruesome child who has been at the dressing-up box and who does not comprehend the difference between real power and its trappings.

It recalls an opening image in this epic, four-and-half-hour performance by Toneelgroep at the Holland festival: the future Henry V (Ramsey Nasr) prematurely handles his ailing father’s crown. While the young Henry doubts that this bauble alone confers legitimacy, Richard is in such a hurry to be crowned that he rolls out his own red carpet for the coronation. While Henry stares in the mirror as if searching for a man who would be king, Richard preens in front of it, putting on a performance for himself like an actor who is greedy for star billing.


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