The Hollow Crown

The Hollow Crown - Henry V

Radio Times
Review by:
David Butcher

Television directors have a tough time with Shakespeare. In the theatre, the audience has the immediacy of the spectacle, so they make leaps of faith. “Can this cockpit hold 
the vasty fields of France?”, wonders the opening Chorus of Henry V (played here by John Hurt). And the answer is, it can if the audience believes it can.

On screen, though, we expect to see the battlefields, the massed armies, the charging knights. Fine if you have a Hollywood budget and a few thousand extras. But BBC2 is caught between stage and big screen, not a “wooden O” but a glass oblong, and when King Henry “visits all his host” on the eve of Agincourt, we’re painfully aware that he barely seems to have enough men to form a football squad let alone an army.

The impressive thing about this production is that it rises above those problems and concentrates on one thing TV can do brilliantly – conjure up a mood. So by the time Hal (Tom Hiddleston) gets to the St Crispin’s Day speech (“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...”) we’re lost in the power of the play’s language. It’s one of many moving moments in a beautifully mounted production.

About this programme

Tom Hiddleston stars in this adaptation of Shakespeare's play about the 15th-century king. Following his youthful trials, Henry V has grown to become a respected monarch, but faces the greatest test of his reign when he is challenged by the French Dauphin. Attempts at diplomacy fail, prompting Henry to lay siege to the Normandy town of Harfleur - before engaging in a bloody battle at Agincourt that will define his reign. With John Hurt, Paterson Joseph, Anton Lesser, Lambert Wilson and Richard Griffiths.

Cast and crew

Cast

Henry V
Tom Hiddleston
Mistress Quickly
Julie Walters
The chorus
John Hurt
Alice
Geraldine Chaplin
Thomas Erpingham
Paul Freeman
Bardolph
Tom Georgeson
Duke of Burgundy
Richard Griffiths
Duke of York
Paterson Joseph
Westmoreland
James Laurenson
Exeter
Anton Lesser
Pistol
Paul Ritter
Archbishop of Canterbury
Malcolm Sinclair
Captain Fluellen
Owen Teale
Princess Katherine
Melanie Thierry
Charles, King of France
Lambert Wilson
Louis, the Dauphin
Edward Akrout
Corporal Nym
Tom Brooke
Montjoy
Jeremie Covillaut
The Constable of France
Maxime Lefrancois
Duke of Orleans
Stanley Weber
Williams
Gwilym Lee
Earl of Salisbury
Richard Clothier
Bishop of Ely
Nigel Cooke
John Bates
John Dagleish
Falstaff's boy
George Sargeant

Crew

Director
Thea Sharrock
Producer
Rupert Ryle-Hodges
Writer
William Shakespeare
Categories
Drama

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