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  • Radley College, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 2HR
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'Henry IV'

'Henry IV'

The play starts a few years after ‘Richard II’ left off. This was a fast pace, high-energy performance filled with comic moments and intense battle scenes, which had us all fearing for the limbs of the cast. The set was beautifully detailed and captured the Medieval atmosphere. Instead of Richard’s emblem of the White Hart there was a White Swan in the stain glass window to show Henry IV's reign had begun. He was played by Archie McChesney. Archie at times showed his vulnerable side in this performance. It was clear to see that ruling and having the disappointment of a son like Hal, had aged him. We first encounter Ned Marriott (below, right) as Hal, Henry IV's son, appearing from a pile of bed sheets after a late night. Ned conducted himself in a manner unsuited to royalty, which was sometimes comic but always raw and believable.

The stand-out performance was by George Dillon-Robinson (above left) who played Sir John Falstaff, one of Shakespeare’s greatest comic creations. In the fat suit, wig and long grey beard there was no denying he was The Lord of Misrule and could never be contained. He was the joker throughout and always undermined the serious moments with perfect comic timing. For example pretending to be dead when Douglas, played by Arthur O'Kelly, fought Falstaff in his assortment of pots and pans for armour. Artie Diamandis played Poins, Hal's partner in crime. Artie bought a cheeky but friendly persona to the stage, as the two of them bounced off their own mischievous intentions.

The leader of the rebels. Harry “Hotspur” Percy, was played by Benji Waller. His performance was brutal and frighteningly aggressive at times. His Wife played by Elin Kaemmer-Bailey however, managed to strip him of his macho persona as well as his shirt, as we witnessed an emotional scene between lovers.

The seedy City of London, Cheapside, was conveyed in The Boar's Head Tavern run by the Landlord and his wife, Edward Agnew and Alexandra Yorston. Olly Daly, as Francis the “Drawer” or Barman, stood out in a comic cameo role, as he ran around the Tavern in a hilariously hectic manner.

The play culminated with battle scenes. Full armour was worn and heavy metal swords brandished as the fight commenced. I was completely submerged in the action, as grunts roared and sparks flew from swords. Due to the ferocity at which they hurled their swords at one another, it was no doubt a fight to the death.

The costume designer Lianne Rowland outdid herself, as highly decorative fur rimmed capes graced the stage, alongside peasantry rags and armoured men. Falstaff was seen in a fat suit as well as a white whispery beard and messy wig. However one of the most astonishing looks of the evening created by Lianne was George Hervey's face. George played the role of Bardolph one of the shady, heavy-drinking characters of London. He had a blistered face and a repulsively bulbous nose that reddened at the tip. This prosthetic work was so realistic he was unrecognisable. Matt Barker created a visually delicious set, ranging from stained glass windows to unmade beds. There was certainly no expense spared. The performance all round was full of life, most likely down to the passion and expert knowledge pumped into the production by Mr Lowe. It had everything from sword fighting to drunken vagrants. What more could you want?

Reviewed by Arran Ryder, H Social 6.1

On Wednesday 20th of January at 7.45pm, the cast of Radley College’s latest edition to Shakespeare’s ‘Henriad’, ‘Henry IV Part 1’, prepared for their second night. It was a splendid evening which flew by, with amusement had by all. This was a tense political Play; yet some light comedy from Sir John Falstaff (George Dillon-Robinson) released some of the high drama. However, there were some more sincere lines from characters such as King Henry (Archie McChesney) and Henry, Prince of Wales (Ned Marriot), with the balance between comedy and political scheming just right.

Boys from various year groups made up the cast and you could tell how hard the boys had worked by the extremely convincing sword fighting and the first-class stage timing of the comedy and action.

All in all, what an evening. The level of enjoyment was clearly demonstrated in the raucous applause that rounded off the night. Special thanks must go to the hard work put in by those behind the scenes for the amazing set, spectacular costume and the Director Mr Lowe, for putting the whole thing together.

Additional Reporting by James Gosling, A Social 6.1

Henry IV Rehearsals

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