Review Roundup: HENRY V at Noel Coward Theatre
Henry V, opened at the Noel Coward Theatre last week. Starring Jude Law in the title role, it runs through 22 February 2014. Let's see what the critics had to say:
Maxwell Cooter of whatsonstage.com says: At the heart, of course, is the king himself. Jude Law's Henry is a man of action, and a man of anger. There is no softness here and there's little sense of levity: the long Salic Law exposition is delivered straight, without any of the regular humour and the tennis ball scene sets off a tirade that shows that this Henry has little respect for any diplomatic convention or pleasantries but is full of fight from the outset - a warlike Harry indeed.
Michael Billington of the Guardian says: "...it is Law's complex portrait of Shakespeare's contradictory king that is far and away the most fascinating aspect of an efficient, well-managed production that doesn't aspire to the topical resonance of recent revivals... Law presents us with a divided character whose surface graciousness masks a violent rage... Law certainly knows how to turn on the charm, as he does excellently in the wooing scene with the French princess... As an actors' director, Grandage obviously deserves credit for the canniness of Law's portrayal...For the rest this is a fast, well-staged account of a problematic play. Christopher Oram's design, dominated by a scarred wooden stockade, is practical and effective...It also crowns a remarkable Grandage season that through star names, cheap tickets and quality productions has attracted a new audience...
Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard writes: Jude Law is a charismatic Henry V in this final instalment of Michael Grandage's five-show West End season. It's a production that doesn't strain for topicality, preferring instead a slightly muted traditionalism.... Law makes an intelligent, conflicted king. He's a military man who is nonetheless fashionably attired in figure-hugging trousers. Capable of being steely and severe, he is also blessed with charm and relaxed humour.
Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail writes: It's a 'big ask', as rugby coaches say, and Jude Law answers it....He is fit enough physically to wear period battledress without looking silly...He glowers beautifully, even if he resembles a slimmed down Phil Collins. ...His best war moment comes with the great call to arms before Agincourt ('We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!').
Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph writes: Jude Law, relatively short of stature and with a receding hairline, initially looks an unlikely hero, but this is one of the richest and most detailed performances of Henry V that I have ever seen. He combines palpable authority with a ready wit, acts with chilling ruthlessness when he needs to and movingly captures the King's doubts and the awful burden of his responsibility on the eve of Agincourt. And he delivers the wonderful rousing speeches to the troops with thrilling eloquence.