Henry IV Part II


Shakespeare Henry IV Part II play. Directed 2014 by Gregory Doran at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Stars Elliot Barnes-Worrell (Prince John), Marin Bassindale (Snare/Peto/Duke of Clarence), Jasper Britton (King Henry IV), Antony Byrne (Rumour/Porter/Pistol), Sean Chapman (Earl of Northumberland), Paola Dionisotti (Mistress Quickly), Oliver Ford Davies (Justice Shallow), Nicholas Gerard-Martin (Lord Hastings/Feeble/Davy), Robert Gilbert (Travers/Sir John Coleville), Jonny Glynn (Morton/Earl of Warwick/Shadow), Nia Gwynne (Doll Tearsheet/Lady Northumberland), Alex Hassell (Prince Hal), Jim Hooper (Justice Silence/Gower), Yousseff Kerkour (Earl of Westmoreland/Fang/Bullcalf), Jennifer Kirby (Lady Percy), Sam Marks (Ned Poins), Keith Osborn (Archbishop of York), Leigh Quinn (Wart/Duke of Gloucester), Joshua Richards (Bardolph), Luca Saraceni-Gunner (Falstaff's Page), Antony Sher (Sir John Falstaff), Simon Thorp (Lord Chief Justice), Trevor White (Lord Mowbray), and Simon Yadoo (Lord Randolph/Mouldy/Beadle). Designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis; lighting by Tim Mitchell; music by Paul Englishby; sound by Martin Slavin; movement by Michael Ashcroft; fights by Terry King; screen director was Robin Lough; screen producer was John Wyver. Released 2015,  disc has 5.1 dts Master Audio. Grade: A

Falstaff survived the battle at Shrewsbury by pretending he was dead. Still his lies (even that he killed Hotspur!) are believed by some. Prince Hal plays along and promotes Falstaff and his gang. The Lord Chief Justice (Simon Thorp) sees through all this and remains on Falstaff's case even though it's too late to prosecute him for the robbery at Gad's Hill (see Part 1):

Shakespeare could not resist any pun. Here the Chief Justice comments on Falstaff's "waste," meaning carelessness with money:


Here is Falstaff's reply. The word "waist" is pronounced the same as "waste." A man's waist is where he wears his belt. Falstaff has no waist at all---it has been replaced by his enormous belly:


Although Sir Falstaff is immune from criminal sanctions, he still has legal problems. Mistress Quickly (Paola Dionisotti) has filed a suit for the money he owes her and on his promise to marry her and make her a "lady." She seeks his arrest as bond for the debt and there is a showdown before the Chief Justice. ("To eat someone out of house and home" has been a cliché in English ever since this line was first uttered at The Globe.) Just seeing Dionisotti in action as Quickly is worth the cost of this HDVD:


But right before your eyes, Falstaff talks Quickly out of her suit and arranges for a dinner with his favorite whore, Doll Tearsheet:

Tearsheet (Nia Gwynne).

And now in the middle of all the mayhem, Shakespeare gives us a scene of true love:

Shakespeare presents many other low-life characters that you have to meet. But this is a history play, so what's happening with the King? Well, he can't sleep:

Even though Hotspur was killed at Shrewsbury, other restive royalties still are in rebellion. Prince Hal partly rehabilitated himself at Shrewsbury, but continues to consort with Falstaff. In Hal's absence, Prince John (Hal's younger brother) leads an army against the rebels for another battle. They conduct peace negotiations at the battlefield and John agrees to a list of demands they present. The rebels send their forces home. John then has all the leaders arrested and executed.  They forgot to include safe passage for the leaders in their list:


This victory by trick doesn't do the ill King any good:

Prince Hal arrives to visit his father, who appears to be dead:

Hal contemplates the responsibility that has suddenly befallen him, and he goes into the next room to weep:

But suddenly the King awakes and misses his crown. He laments what will happen to the kingdom when he is dead and Hal becomes King Henry V:

Weeping more, Hal convinces his father of his love and desire to be a good King:


Henry IV dies, and Hal is King Henry V. Everyone is on edge. The new King shows his new maturity. First he tells his younger brothers not to worry:

Now it's time to patch up Hal's relationship with the Chief Lord Justice. The Lord Justice once put Harry in jail for a time, and he fears that Hal may seek revenge. But in a surprise move, Henry V asks the Lord Justice to stay on as his lead advisor:

Henry V breaks with Falstaff. (Sir John gets a pension, but must stay at all times 10 miles away from the King.)

Once again it would take 100 screenshots to indicate the breath and depth of what Shakespeare do in a 5 act play. Once again, there is no criticism I could bring to this excellent production. But Part 2 is a sequel that doesn't stand well on it's own. I suspect that it is rarely produced except in conjunction with  Part 1. In a brief review of available videos, I see no competition for this title as a stand-alone, uncut, stage production of Henry IV, Part 2. I'll give this the grade of A when considered as a sequel to Part 1.