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‘Henry IV Part 2, or Falstaff’ review

Theatre, Shakespeare Shakespeare's Globe , South Bank Friday October 11 2019
2 out of 5 stars
1 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
Henry IV Part 2, Shakespeare's Globe, 2019
© Tristram Kenton Helen Schlesinger (Falstaff)

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

After Globe’s excellent production of ‘Part 1’, this ‘Henry IV Part 2’ feels like a straight-to-video sequel

Oh dear. If ‘Henry IV Part 1’ felt like vindication for the Globe Ensemble rep company, then ‘Henry IV Part 2’… well, it’s just not very good.

Part of the reason for this is that ‘Henry IV Part 2’ isn’t exactly Shakespeare bringing his A-game. The most charitable way of looking at the plot is as a series of short stories vaguely linking ‘Henry IV Part 1’ and ‘Henry V’. It has the air of ephemera to it.

The job of keeping the show on the road falls to the actor playing the dissolute knight Sir John Falstaff, who has the biggest role and most coherent character arc. That the fine and funny Helen Schlesinger doesn’t carry it off is unfortunate.

Her performance kind of channels Eddie from ‘Ab Fab’, which isn’t a terrible reading of Falstaff. But maybe it needs the full-on Patsy treatment to really connect. Schlesinger gets laughs but they’re usually for audience interactions and unscripted quips. She never really feels at ease with the script. And, as in ‘Part 1’, she lacks chemistry with Sarah Amankwah’s reserved Prince Hal – it’s meant to be a poignant moment when the prince ascends to the throne and rejects his old friend, but here it feels profoundly unmomentous.

The elephant not in the room here is Michelle Terry. Her brilliant performance as Hotspur in ‘Part 1’ more or less singlehandedly makes that production. Although Globe Ensemble directors Federay Holmes and Sarah Bedi seem a bit more on top of things than they did last year, there’s still a sense that their process mostly involves making sure the actors are happy and hoping that a few good performances will get them over the finish line in lieu of an actual structured take on the play. They have emphatically failed to do that with ‘Henry IV Part 2’, which basically feels like two-and-a-half-hours of outtakes.


Venue name: Shakespeare's Globe
Venue website:
Venue phone: 020 7902 1400
Address: 21
New Globe Walk
Transport: Tube: Blackfriars/Mansion House/London Bridge
Price: £5-£47. Runs 2hr 25min
Opening hours: Globe Exhibition and Tour daily 9am–5pm. Closed Dec 24 and 25. (Check in advance for dates when the tour is not available.)

Dates And Times

Users say (1)

1 out of 5 stars
1 person listening

I totally agree.  This production was a mess and a disappoinment.   Hard to understand what was happening, who was who (partly the outcome of having women in men's roles and vice versa) and somehow, the evening I was there, it just never gelled.  There was very little drama or comedy.  It felt like I was watching a school play - very mixed levels of acting and ability to speak Shakespeare's lines and costumes from the dressing up box.  I've learned my lesson - not to go a play before Time Out has reviewed it.

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