Kelsey Bjola on Seeing Henry IV, Part One at the Globe Theatre

Beers, Cheers, and Big Battles Too

by Kelsey Bjola

To go or not to go, that was the question.  Heading towards Shakespeare’s astounding Globe Theatre, excitement grew by the minute, knowing that our group would be standing in the same spot as those from four centuries ago.  Though separated by forty decades, the goal of both those from the time of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, to those individuals today was the same: to go enjoy one of Shakespeare’s many astounding plays.  The current play in performance is a history play known as King Henry the Fourth Part I.  Although a history play, it also brings colossal amounts of drama and comedic relief to the audience, whether they are sitting, or standing in the pit for the three hour duration of the play.

Henry the Fourth Part I begins in the aftermath of a civil war which has caused much turmoil in England.  Not only that, but the King’s son is becoming quite a rebel rouser, hanging out at the pub with the local gang of thieves and their overweight, hilarious leader, Falstaff.  Although King Henry hopes some great person will be able to bring England back to a state of peace, ferment only builds, and a rebel group forms against the King, causing another great war in the end of the play.  Even if the play was not known, everyone was able to take in the different situations presented on stage by the brilliant cast from the Globe Theatre.  From Sam Crane’s dramatic performance as the hot-headed rebel, Hotspur, to Roger Allam’s side splitting, hilarious portrayal as the jolly and fat Falstaff, there was entertainment for all in the beautiful theatre.  Each actor and actress fit their role with pure perfection, inducing the audience to believe they really were these bizarre characters.  The costumes and scenery only augmented the cast’s first-class performance, with small details such as the antiquated lanterns carried by the commoners and the mountains of dirty beer jugs consumed by Falstaff truly completing the scene.  Diminutive add-ins such as songs and dances also gave great contribution to the already fabulous theatrical production.  Every part of the stage was used to the highest degree, with the actors even going so far as to run, fight, and fumble through the pit where the audience, known as the groundlings, stands.  What could have been just an okay performance, turned into an extraordinary one because of the extra in by everyone who had a job in the making of this performance.

If one had to decide whether or not to go to this play based on one thing, the amount of cheers and laughter that came from the audience would be a fantastic choice of reasoning.  Although it is recommended one reads the play beforehand, it is understandable even if the play is unknown.  Shakespeare lovers will drool over the perfection of this performance, and those a little less in love with the play master will still find this theatre production extremely enjoyable.

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