The Hollow Crown

A small but appreciative audience had the opportunity to see some of our finest actors performing in this much loved production from the RSC repertoire, which replaces the previously advertised production of Hecuba with Vanessa Redgrave.

Originally created by John Barton for the RSC in 1961, this entertaining and witty melange of music, poems and speeches chronicles the lives, foibles and in some cases painful deaths of our great and not so great kings and queens.

Harriet Walter has an effortless charm about her, against an interesting line-up of grumpy old men - alias Donald Sinden, Alan Howard and Richard Johnson. The script bounds along, picking out hallowed moments in history which are often delivered with great gusto and much glee. Sinden is particularly adept at bringing out the comedy in these tragic moments and lifting the whole enjoyment of the production. As are Alan Howard and Richard Johnson, both of whom bring numerous historical characters to life with a wry sense of humour and knowing glances. Walter excels in her interpretation of Jane Austen’s “partial, prejudiced and ignorant historian’s account” of the monarchy from Henry IV to Charles I, which is both playful and entertaining with constant references to her adored Mary, Queen of Scots. Musical interludes break up the dialogue to great effect and include the memorable Vicar of Bray, sung by Stephen Gray.

The Men!

Production information:
Devised by John Barton, who also directs
Management: Royal Shakespeare Company
Cast: Richard Johnson, Harriet Walter, Alan Howard, Donald Sinden

Peta David

The Stage Online, 7.3.05.