Creation Theatre Company - Henry V
17th August to 14th September 2013.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Three's literally a crowd up at Oxford Castle
Creation Theatre's Henry V is currently playing to standing ovations
Henry V, at Oxford Castle, from Saturday, August 17 to Saturday, September 14
Creation Theatre, defying last year's bad weather, is achieving full houses with standing ovations for William Shakespeare's Henry V. As always, the company lives up to its mandate to create inspiring, creative shows and Henry V is up there with their best. Charlotte Conquest directs a cast of only three actors, all of whom are terrific. Rhys King, Morgan Philpott and Christopher York play dozens of characters and flex their vocal range with a kaleidoscope of accents. The show is played promenade-style around Oxford Castle and Prison in 10 scenes of inventive theatricality.
Sunday matinee was a 'relaxed' performance, attracting a large number of children. One was heard to say, after watching the scene where Queen Katherine is taught some English words by her attendant, that this was the best English lesson she had ever had.
Rhys King, as Katherine, makes a tour of the audience, who are encouraged to display their hand, fingers, nails etc before she recites all the new words like a contestant in the Generation Game. With Christopher York playing the maid, the scene had the audience in stitches, especially when Katherine turns demonic trying out the word 'elbow'.
Some scenes are playfully puerile. Falstaff's lowborn companions Nym, Pistol, Bardolph and Nell are introduced in a transport café, complete with 'greengrocer' spellings on the menu, which intriguingly includes among the eggs and chips a meal called The Full Henry. A harmless tiff erupts into a food fight using squeezy ketchup bottles. This drollery is echoed in the more serious fight at Agincourt, where the blood of 10,000 fallen French is depicted by the same ketchup.
'Once more unto the breach' is delivered powerfully by Morgan Philpott standing high above the audience on the ancient Castle Mound, next to a proudly wind-blown flag of St George.
Standing in the shadow of a medieval castle with the audience playing the role of Henry's ragbag army, the audience can believe the Chorus to have conjured up the 'imaginary forces' for the battles of Harfleur and later, Agincourt.
With a Plan B for rain, Henry V is highly recommended.