Henry and the Harfleur Rope Trick

The Aldwych Theatre saw Shakespeare's Henry V imitate the action of a spiderman as he delivered the speech before Harfleur clinging by a rope to a sheer wall. Other neat theatrical tricks came in throughout the Royal Shakespeare Company production - the battle took place in the dark, stirring stereo sound effects made the auditorium itself the battlefield.

Alan Howard as Henry gave an ebullient performance of a propagandist king: the production laid great stress on the way Henry converted his tattered army into a devoted fighting force through his eloquence and charisma.

The anti-war themes acted out by the "lower-life" characters were comparatively colourless, the audience were more interested in Henry, his moments of humility, his bursts of soaring confidence and his flashes of humour.

Henry is a great part. Howard played it for all he was worth.

Wimbledon News, 30.1.76.

Playing Shakespeare/Henry V