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The Hollow Crown - Henry IV Part 2
E3 of 4
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It’s always humbling to watch great Shakespeare, which to a large extent this production is. Yes, it takes a while to pick up from Part 1 and there are longueurs purporting to be comedy, but the sombre moments in Richard Eyre’s free adaptation of the text are absolutely riveting, with three magnificent central performances.
Jeremy Irons is the ailing king, beset by rebels and obsessed by death, providing weight and gloom in stark contrast to the golden aura that surrounds Harry, his errant heir, charismatically embodied by Tom Hiddleston. And Simon Russell Beale instantly gets the measure of Harry’s “ill angel”, Falstaff, the lardy bon viveur and opportunist who realises only at the final curtain that if you play the fool too often, you become one.
Scenes are intercut, speeches slashed, the settings (Gloucester Cathedral) gorgeous… The only trick Eyre can’t quite pull off is to enhance women’s roles in these History Plays: the fact they’re played by such high-calibre stars as Julie Walters, Michelle Dockery and Maxine Peake only rams this feeling home.
As an uprising against the ailing monarch gathers momentum, the Lord Chief Justice urges Prince Hal to leave London and support his father. Meanwhile, the roguish Falstaff spots an opportunity to advance himself by recruiting troops for the royal forces. Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale star in an adaptation of Shakespeare's play about the last years of Henry IV's reign, with Alun Armstrong, Jeremy Irons, Geoffrey Palmer, Maxine Peake and Julie Walters.
Cast & Crew
Simon Russell Beale
Archbishop of York
Lord Chief Justice
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