Thursday, June 28, 2012

Henry V at the Globe Theatre

Well, I can officially cross something off my Bucket List, I saw a show at the famed Globe Theatre.  Yesterday I saw Henry V.  The play is about King Henry V of England (duh).  If you scroll back to my post about Wales, I talk about him there too since I went to Monmouth, where he was born.

Anyway, I'll give you a quick synopsis of the play since I don't want to bore you too much.  Henry V has just taken the throne after his father's death.  Henry had a wild past, and now he's trying to move past that a become a good king for the English people who are getting over civil wars.  Based on an old law, Henry believes he has a claim to part of France, which the French crown prince (aka the Dauphin), denies in a rude message.  In typical kingly fashion, Henry's ego is hurt, and he decides the only way to fix this is to, of course, go to war.

As Henry prepares to go to war, his former friends, who he turned his back on when he became king, also prepare to show their loyalty to a king who won't even acknowledge them as friends anymore.  Henry also has to deal with traitors in his court who are really working for the French, including a man he thought was a close friend of his.

The big moment is the Battle of Agincourt, where the English are far outnumbered by the French, five to one.  Henry goes "undercover" to see what his soldiers think about this war, and he is pleasantly surprised by their support.  The battle is a victory for the English, and the play ends with Henry marrying the French princess, Catherine, as a sign of peace between the two kingdoms (we all know that that doesn't last very long, typical of the English and French).

Overall, the play was amazing (as if you could expect anything else from the Royal Shakespeare Company)!  The actors continued to act even though it was raining (it wasn't a heavy rain), and even when a pigeon decided that the stage was the perfect place to sit and chill.  There were even two scenes in French, that's how it's written in the actual play, and although I had no idea at all what was going on, the actors delivered the scene so well, I could kind of get the basic idea of what was going on during those scenes.

Henry V was played by Jamie Parker.  You might not know the name, but you should become very familiar with it, because he is an absolutely amazing actor.  If you've ever seen the movie Valkyrie with Tom Cruise (the one where they try to assassinate Hitler), Jamie Parker's in that.

He plays Lieutenant Werner von Haeften, the guy who drives Tom Cruise's character from the Wolf's Layer after the bomb goes off, amongst other parts.  He was excellent as Henry V, he had the perfect emotion, delivered the lines flawlessly, and generally had the aura of a king while also a young man who just want to kick back and hang out with his friends.

What's really cool about the Globe Theatre is where the "Groundlings" stand.  You can pay about 5 pounds (roughly $8) for one of those tickets.  You have to stand the entire show, and if it rains you're under the open hole in the middle of the theater, but you're also really close to the stage.  They also use that area all the time for different things, like parades, entrances, exits, etc, so you're right there and the actors will walk right past you.  I sat, not stood, but next week I'm seeing The Taming of the Shrew, and I'm standing, which should be fun.  You can watch a trailer for Henry V below.

I also saw my first official Harry Potter location yesterday, Millennium Bridge.  The bridge is shown in the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as the Death Eaters basically destroy the bridge on their way to Diagon Alley.

This is a shot from the movie, and what's cool is you can actually see the Globe Theatre, it's circle in red.  It doesn't look like a theater, but it is.  The big building along the bottom is the Tate Modern, an art gallery that's apparently really big and really nice.

Here's my shot of Millennium Bridge, not as fancy in real life, but it was still really cool.  More Harry Potter and Shakespeare to come, so keep an eye out.

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