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HENRY V at the Noel Coward Theatre

December 12, 2013

The fifth and final play in the Michael Grandage season at the Noel Coward Theatre is Shakespeare’s HENRY V with Jude Law. I am spoilt living less than half an hour from the Royal Shakespeare memorial theatre in Stratford Upon Avon. Both theatres in Stratford Upon Avon with their thrust stages are without doubt my favourite place to enjoy Shakespeare plays. The Noel Coward Theatre is a relatively small traditional West End Proscenium arch stage and the set although impressive in its simplicity was very static. I had also seen Nicholas Hytner‘s epic version of Henry V with Adrian Lester at the Olivier Theatre in 2003. So a high bar.

Jude Law is what makes this production special. Without him I am afraid I think this production would be rather run of the mill. Although other than Jude Law there was one aspect of this production that was exceptional. Neil Austin‘s Lighting design was tremendous. The simple static canvas was transformed using a multitude of very effective lighting designs. Very impressive and stand out lighting design.

Kevin Spacey‘s Richard III at the Old Vic and David Tennant’s Richard II at Stratford still rank as my favourite Shakespeare Kings. Jude Law just standing on the stage in period costume is enough to believe he is King Henry V. He has a very subtle quality to his acting which kept me entranced and you just cannot fail to be on his side. Perfect casting. The best is saved until the last when the really incredible talents of Jude Law as a leading man are revealed: his warrior King Henry shows us his human side in the scene when he courts his future Queen Katherine. Absolutely magical – you can’t fail to fall in love with him. It is worth the price of a very expensive West End ticket just to see this scene.

So one for fans of lighting design and Jude Law.

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