Gregory Doran’s production of Shakespeare’s most famous history play debuted at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2015, the 600th anniversary year of the Battle of Agincourt, upon which Henry V turns. It then transferred to the Barbican in London, where it became part of the RSC’s season of plays marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016. Alex Hassell, fresh from playing Prince Hal in the RSC’s Henry IV Part I and Part II, reprised his role, this time as the newly crowned King Henry. Running against a backdrop of great international unrest, Doran’s interpretation was studiously neutral on the subject of war, focusing instead on the hesitant young king’s gradual assumption of statesmanship. Stephen Brimson Lewis’s stripped-back set and Tim Mitchell’s subtle lighting complemented the sense that this production was less about victory and patriotism than about the psychological evolution of a great man in the making.
Photography by Matt Humphrey for Curtain Call ©2019