Reviewed by: Christine Anna Wagner
The University of Adelaide Theatre Guild is currently presenting Shakespeare’s Henry V in the Little Theatre at the University of Adelaide. The director and costume designer is Megan Dansie with Nick Duddy as a strong Henry V and Peter Davies as the assured and eloquent Chorus.
It is the story of Henry’s military excursion into France to ascertain his claim to the French throne. The Battle of Agincourt on St. Crispin’s Day ensues, where against huge odds Henry is victorious. The play also comments on betrayal, retaliation, the human cost of war and the transient nature of the advantages gained by victory.
As the audience enters the theatre, the cast is scattered on the stage floor. It is left to the programme notes to explain that they are PTSD victims receiving therapy, who present the play with their therapist as Chorus. While the idea was admirable, I found it difficult to reconcile the concept with the play itself.
The cast performed their roles with strength and conviction. Many of the actors played multiple characters, all completely and individually defined. The humour was delightfully delivered. The sung music as the players exited the stage after the victory was spine chilling.
The Little Theatre is an intimate space which affords wonderful opportunities for the actors to build rapport between themselves and their audience. I would have liked the actors to have used this to their advantage by using more varied vocal inflections and a wider difference between loud and soft speech.
I would highly recommend that you avail yourself of the rare opportunity to view such a dynamic and committed performance of an important play.
Nick Duddy as Henry V