Henry V

Date 10th November 2016
Society Neston Players
Venue Neston Community Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Paul Kirkbright, Stuart Rathe, Martin Riley


Author: Budge Grounsell

I have long been an advocate of Paul Kirkbrights directorial skills and his collaboration with co-directors Stuart Rathe and Martin Riley and Assistant Ruth Stenhouse has done nothing to diminish that advocacy. Neston Players are never shy of  doing something different and this venture in to Shakespeare clearly shows their desire to be innovative and give their audience  a window into  the many various aspects of  what  theatre offers. Few groups offer this versatility of performance and Neston should be congratulated not only for doing this but doing it so well.

Shakespeare ‘s basis for the majority of his historical, plays is Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland,  a collaborative work published in several volumes and two editions, the first in 1577, and the second in 1587. It was a large, comprehensive description of the British history. The Bard is  "widely believed" to have used the revised second edition of the Chronicles (published in 1587  for his source material: Written around 1599. the story of King Henry V of England, focused on events immediately before and after the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War.

The production as a whole was very well carried out starting with a simple but effective set. Modern dress gave the production team  some scope for  inventiveness with Grenade launchers,  submachine guns etc replacing the swords spears and arrows of  Henry v’s day. In keeping with this were the modern army issue  and red berets of the British  and the rather stranger white unifoms of the French. I could see where this latter idea came from but I’m not sure that it hit quite the right note. The costuming of the clergy, herald and chorus  were equally fine. The ideas of the battle sequences was clever and almost noisy enough to have been real. The lighting was good  although the strobe lighting whilst effective in portraying scenes of warfare can be a little offputting  for some members of the audience. Scene changes are always part and parcel of Neston’s productions and invariably carried out without fuss or tedium.

Neston are seemingly always blessed with a wealth of fine actors and once again they turned up in force. I am always impressed when watching Shakespeare by the players ability to remember the very many lines that Shakespeare produced although “In the round” some dialogue can easily be slightly garbled or lost in the welter of action. Having said that it moved apace which says much for the players.  Add to this excellent facial expressions,  involvement with, the unfolding plot and reaction to the changing situation. There were no poor performances  amongst this band of brother actors. Here we had  an extremely well-acted piece with some great direction  Neston rose as usual to a challenging choice of play. Well done to the whole team.  Budge