Monday, 30 April 2012

14 - Henry V

It is good to complete the story of the rise of King Henry V from tearaway Prince to all conquering hero! But sad to hear of the final demise of the Eastcheap Massive (SPOILER ALERT); Falstaff dead in his bed; Bardolph and Nym finally hung for thieving; the boy page killed defending the luggage;  only Pistol survives but is beaten with a leek and then reports that his wife, Mistress Quickly, has died back in England (hard to say which is worse). 

Kenneth Branagh (on a horse)
In addition to my first ever public Shakespeare performance (see my post on Shakespeare’s birthday) Henry V has one other significant memory. While at drama school a group of us were in a pub when one of my friends got chatting to a guy at the bar who was a little the worst for drink. On finding out that we were all actors the guy was determined to find out what he had seen us in. Steve proceeded to spin a yarn about us all having been extras in Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Henry V’, which was in cinemas at the time. His story grew and grew as he elaborated on the part each member of our group had undertaken in the battle scenes while also downplaying the Hollywood glamour of the thing by explaining that we’d all been up to our necks in mud. I became aware of the prank when Steve turned me into the group saying that I had been the lucky one! “He was on a horse!”

Reading Shakespeare is encouraging me to increase my knowledge of the past beyond what I learn through watching ‘Horrible Histories’ with my kids. In this case reading up on the Battle of Agincourt where, although outnumbered by the French, Henry was victorious mainly thanks to the use of long bow archers from England and Wales. So nothing to do with tigers or greyhounds as I originally thought!

And Finally – My French is even worse than Henry’s so I have no idea what is going on in Act III scene 4. They are either talking about a game of ‘Twister’ or the lyrics to ‘Dem Bones, Dem Bones!’