Review: Intimate surroundings for an epic Henry V performed excellently in Stratford

Charles Essex reviews Henry V, presented by Treat the Boards Theatre Company at the Attic Theatre in Stratford

Stratford, Shakespeare - so far so usual. But what a treat lay in store for those who climbed the stairs to the Attic Theatre on this good night.

Tread the Boards Theatre Company’s usual format of minimal scenery and a small cast performing multiple parts did, as Chorus entreated us, allow us to use our imaginations to follow Henry and his band of brothers from the English court to Agincourt. The intimacy of the Attic Theatre and the bare set of a throne made of sawn timber saw 13 actors play 32 parts with hardly a slip but just changes of costumes.

John-Robert Partridge, who both directed and starred in this excellent production, did full justice to the commanding presence that the part of Henry required. He contrasted this well with the rather clumsy attempts to woo the French princess Katherine in broken French. Indeed in this reviewer’s estimation he was more impressive than Tom Hiddleston in the recent Hollow Crown series. The more-than-competent supporting cast played up to three parts each. They showed their experience and quality as they gave each part the gravitas or levity as required. All deserve honourable mention in dispatches but David McCarthy was particularly accomplished as the blustering Captain Fluellen, whilst the Duke of Burgundy’s monologues were well delivered by Kate Burchett.

For this reviewer this was the best live performance of Henry V he has seen. This audience were indeed a happy few who saw this performance. How did Tread the Boards do the battle scenes? Readers are encouraged to get a ticket and find out. It runs almost every day until 23 April and they will not be disappointed. Theatre of this standard at this price is a bargain.

* Call 07952 819557 to book.