SHAKESPEARE’S ‘HENRY V’ AT LUDLOW CASTLE, JULY 2019
July 2019 saw a huge outdoor performance of Henry V in the historic setting of Ludlow Castle. The show, which was part of the Ludlow Fringe festival was watched by almost 1,100 people, and we received rave reviews (which we have included below to read). You can also watch the show in its entirety below, and we’ve split the video into the first and second half.
REVIEWS FOR HENRY V
Chris Eldon Lee reviews ‘Henry V’
Henry the Fifth is never going to be a complete comedy, but Here to There Productions have exhumed a fair bit of humour from the old text. I don’t recall ever having giggled so much at Shakespeare’s most patriotic play.
Comedy tinges the darkest moments. When Henry weigh us waging war, he and his Bishop make a mess of the paperwork; scrolls dropping dead to the floor. And the sight of the French generals shouting insults at the English slips into Monty Python territory.
But Carl Walker’s production does not fight shy of the tragedy of war. Actor Mark Topping almost has tears in his eyes as his character, the Duke of Exeter, accounts for his missing colleagues … and news of the death of Bardolph flattens the antics of his tavern pals like a ton of bricks.
Compared to the expansive regime of a few years ago, this return of Shakespeare to Ludlow Castle is a pocket production; but it still delivers its punches. Presented on a two-level wooden ‘D’ in the outer bailey, this is a much more intimate affair with the actors communicating eye to the eye with the audience. And it’s all the better for it.
David Hubbard’s King Henry is a handsome brute in an unpolished crown. He’s a bit like a public-school boy who’s just been ejected from ‘Love Island’. He’s passionate and, ultimately, compassionate. His presentation of the text is persuasive and he’s at his best when not being bombastic. There is a delicate irony in his gentle conversation with his troops as he describes the King to them from the safety of his disguise … and there is open honesty in the wooing of Bryony Tebbutt’s not-too-chaste Princess Katherine. Their union might be good for his country, but he genuinely loves his enemy.
His big speeches could be less restless. ‘Unto the breach’ is weakened by his wanderings. Kings should plant their feet and face the world. By contrast, his stillness in his soliloquy on the Eve of Battle is quietly powerful.
Several actors caught my eye. Tom Silverton’s decadent ‘Dauphin’ has the truculence of Captain Jack Sparrow. Indulging himself with wine and grapes, he is supercilious and bored when not the centre of attention. He’s a star turn, delivering Shakespeare with an easy beauty in two languages and upping the chuckle factor when comparing his horse to his mistress. This Dauphin has the air of a man who has plenty of both.
Morgan Rees-Davies is a hugely versatile actor who I’ve admired before. He brings the languid, slow-witted spirit of Roger Lloyd-Pack to Bardolph. Ashleigh Aston enlivens Act 1 with her blustering Nym; Tim Baker’s voice bounces around the castle walls with his domineering King of France, and Lewis Formby’s ‘Boy’ belies his young years with his superb delivery of Shakespeare’s subtleties and Kevin Dewsberry’s Captain Fluellen is a hugely sympathetic and nuanced portrayal of someone fighting someone else’s war
Humour pops up in all sorts of surprising places. Carl Walker works the “Welshman, Scotsman and Irishman” joke with aplomb. The Welsh leek is actually eaten, the Scotsman is even more incomprehensible when trying to talk and eat an apple at the same time (Shakespeare’s groundlings would have loved that!) and the Irishman, with a touch of wicked wit, is an expert in explosives.
The women are excellent in this male-dominated play. Jasmin Arden-Brown brings a touch of ‘Windsor’ to proceedings (Barbara, rather than ‘House of…’) and her repetitive body-parts vocabulary scene with the French Princess is a real hoot. Bryony Tebbutt actually sounds like she’s never spoken English before.
The story is neatly held together by a rather world-weary Andrew Whittle, as The Chorus, in a completely incongruous Marks and Spencer’s lounge suit…his picture-painting amplified by an impressively moody soundscape. When he tells us to look at the horses, we hear them, clear as a bell.
With perfect timing at the dress rehearsal, the sombre close of the play was underlined by the ten o’clock chimes of St Laurence’s Church. If they can pull that trick off every night, it will add a touch of magic to a most inventive production.
Bev Jenkins (Guild of Drama Adjudicators) reviews Henry V:
I have seen Henry V a number of times. Firstly because it’s fairly easy to understand and twice, because it’s a great play. Here to There’s production of said play did not disappoint. Director Carl Walker admits in his pre-amble that he had to “ pinch himself” to have the opportunity to direct this historic play with the added bonus of an “amazing cast” and he hit the nail on the head. This production succeeded mainly due to the expert choice of casting.
Producing Henry V is no mean feat. There are 30+ characters and it can be confusing for the audience when actors double, treble or indeed quadruple up. The Here to There cast of 20 provided a smooth, ever-so-easy to understand performance. It was simple, unadulterated and pure. “Simple” did not mean “boring” – in this instance “simple” equated to quality.
Notable performances for me lay with Ashleigh Aston (a female Nym ), Tom Silverton (The Dauphin- a la Jack Sparrow- style), Simon Garrington (Pistol), Kevin Dewsbury (Leek- bashing Captain Fluellen) and the man himself , David Hubball ( a controlled and coherent King Henry V). Another nod to Ben Andrew (Captain Macmorris) the only Irishman in a Shakespeare play and Stuart Ash (Captain Jamey) for providing the very funny but controlled “ English, Scottish Irish, Welsh” routine. Here to There founder Andrew Whittall (Chorus) broke the fourth wall in his Martin Bell suit and kept the audience suitably informed as to both the plot and the required imagination to use in crossing seas and going into battle.
I still get a thrill watching Shakespeare in the grounds of Ludlow Castle- referenced by Shakespeare himself in RIchard lll. The magnificent backdrop of rugged Norman walls and battlements supported the play as did the environment itself, the birds singing, a gentle if not chilly breeze, and as the night darkened, the lighting bounced off the Outer Bailey creating a real sense of period drama.
The well-known scenes: The French Lesson, The battle, The leek abuse were all played with great humour. The intense sword-fighting was stimulating and it was of no surprise to learn from the programme that the Company had employed fight choreographer Simon Blood Devay to work with the cast. The siege of Harfleur was powerful and both the English and the audience were drawn in to the Kings rousing speech particularly famous for its evocation of a brotherhood in arms. We felt a huge wave of nationalistic pride.
I’ve seen many renditions of Henry V where the plot has been spun and recoiled so much that the audience lose the actual sense and style of The Bard himself. This production proved that you don’t need all bells and whistles to produce a piece of dynamic, compelling theatre. What an enjoyable night!
‘THE BLINDING LIGHT’: HEREFORD COURTYARD THEATRE AND MALVERN COACH HOUSE THEATRE, OCT 2018
Swedish playwright August Strindberg has abandoned the theatre and is in search of gold…or rather to make gold. Holed up in a squalid top-floor room in a Paris hotel room in 1896, he starts his journey into the art of Alchemy. But in his scientific calculations, he doesn’t include the 3 women who both enter and re-enter his life…nor the voices in the walls…
Written by Howard Brenton, the man behind last year’s production of ‘Anne Boleyn’, ‘THE BLINDING LIGHT’ was performed in two studio theatre venues during October.
Take a look at the trailer film we created for The Blinding Light as well:
‘NELL GWYNN’: HEREFORD COURTYARD THEATRE, AUG/SEPT 2018
A bawdy romp with up-roaring songs and dances, charting the life and loves of one of England’s first and finest stage actor, orange seller and most famous mistress of King Charles II, Nell Gwynn. Performed in the main house at The Courtyard Theatre, Hereford from 29 Aug to 1 Sept 2018.
Take a look at the trailer film we created for Nell Gwynn as well:
AS YOU LIKE IT – JUNE 2018
by William Shakespeare
An open air sixties themed version of As You Like It performed in Ludlow Castle.
Take a look at the trailer film we created for As You Like It as well:
CONTRACTIONS: SEPTEMBER 2017
by Mike Bartlett
‘Come in. Sit down, How are you?’
Emma’s been seeing Darren. She thinks she’s in love. Her boss thinks she’s in breach of contract. The situation needs to be resolved.
A black comedy where office rules ignore human needs.
ANNE BOLEYN: AUGUST-SEPT 2017
by Howard Brenton
Hunting through an old chest the newly crowned King of England; James I discovers the controversial legacy of Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII’s notorious second wife. Time jumps back 70 years to when the witty and flirtatious Anne was in love with Henry, but also with the most dangerous ideas of her day. Conspiring with the exiled William Tyndale, she plots to make England Protestant.
FOUR MINUTES TWELVE SECONDS
by James Fritz
Continuing Here to There’s policy of first performances in the region of fresh, new, socially-relevant productions, Four Minutes Twelve Seconds was performed in February and March 2017 at Ludlow Brewery and at the Coach House Theatre, Great Malvern.
This highly charged 5 star awarded play kicks off our 2017 season with a bang. First performed in 2014 at the Hampstead Theatre, the piece has had critical acclaim heaped up on it, with sensational reviews from The Times and The Guardian who awarded it 5 and 4 stars respectively.
Seventeen-year-old Jack is the apple of his mother’s eye. His parents, Di (ALEX LACEY) and David (MARK TOPPING), have devoted their lives to giving him every opportunity they never had. As a result, Jack is smart, outgoing, and well on his way to achieving the grades to study Law at Durham University. He has a girlfriend, Cara (AMEY WOODHALL) whom is seen regularly at their house, and has many friends at school including a computer geek, Nick (CHRISTOPHER WALTHORNE).
But a startling incident outside the school gates threatens to ruin everything they’ve striven for: an incident that suggests a deep hatred of their son. As events begin to accelerate, Di and David start to doubt Jack’s closest friends, Jack himself, and ultimately themselves – who can they trust?
In a world where smartphones are ubiquitous, James Fritz’s deeply provocative and topical drama throws a light on the sorts of insidious opportunities new technology offers – where nothing dies online, except reputation.
OPENING NIGHT REVIEW (by Phil Leach)
The Coach House, Malvern
‘An engaging and challenging piece of writing, the pace and delivery of the performances across the board enhanced the tension and growing unease of the story as it unfolded. The naturalistic delivery of the lines was outstanding and I almost wondered if it was semi-improvised, which I know now was not the case. Alex Lacey as Di and Mark Topping as David had huge roles to inhabit and they did so with confidence and tremendous belief which was maintained from start to finish. Top class performances. The power of the piece was helped by there being no interval which allowed the tension to be cranked up steadily as more details of the events were revealed.
The soundscape and projections helped to add to that growing sense of menace. The simple staging and effective lighting also added appropriately.
Special mention should be made of Christopher Walthorne as Nick and Amey Woodhall as Cara who were both tremendous. The portrayal of Nick ranged from funny to tender and was a hugely enjoyable performance. The part of Cara was not at all easy and the anger, frustration and hurt came across loud and clear. Two fine young actors.
Huge credit to the Director, Andrew Whittle. who allowed the piece to flow beautifully. There was undoubtedly a lot of thought and care in the direction which has brought this piece to life quite brilliantly.
All in all a hugely impressive and enjoyable piece of theatre, and anyone thinking of seeing this production should ensure that they and their friends don’t miss it.’
Phil Leach, Worcester
‘SHAKESPEARE 1595’: SEPT 2016
ROMEO & JULIET
MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
We were delighted that 2016 saw not one but two Shakespeare plays being produced by Here To There, as part of our Shakespeare 1595 Season and performed at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms.
Why 1595? Well according to literary historians, it is thought that both plays were written in 1595, and whilst are two different plays in tone and theme, there is a connection. The play about Pyramus and Thisbe, put on by the Rude Mechanicals in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ does have some resonance with the story line of ‘Romeo & Juliet’…or did the bard write the Mechanical’s play from R&J? Who knows?!
We set both plays in 1955, a time of change both in the UK and Europe. Fashion and music tastes changed, and for the first time, the younger generation were starting to have their own identity.
ROMEO & JULIET
Romeo & Juliet is set in a Midlands town, in the summer of 1955 and has a real gritty grown-up feel to it.
“Shakespeare’s classic tale about two young lovers is performed fantastically by a very talented group of actors. The passion in this play comes alive in the actors’ performances and makes a breathtaking show.” – A. Jones
“It is beautiful to watch the progression of love and passion in this performance and really feel a connection between the actors and between actor and audience.” – Jessica Lewis
To watch the official theatrical trailer film, please click on the link image below.
MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Midsummer Night’s Dream is set in Athens, 1955…however the magical forest inhabited by the Fairy Folk is very much ‘out of time’ and we’ve gone for a ‘Steam-Punk’ look for our fairies.
“Adding a dash of Steampunk splendor, the actors are beautiful, striking and it’s hard to take your eyes off them.” – Michael Adcock
“The acting is absolutely brilliant. Romantic, humorous and mischievous. This version of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is an absolute must see.” – Holly Pitt
To watch the official theatrical trailer film, please click on the link image below.
Both productions will once again have an original music score, and will be performed by a live band…something that is unusual in provincial theatre these days, and will be a treat for the audience.
Mermaid: March 2016
by Polly Teale
based on the book by Hans Christian Andersen
Watch the latest theatrical trailer here for ‘Mermaid’, shot by Wild Edric Media.
Much Ado About Nothing 2015
The ‘original’ Rom-Com from William Shakespeare hits the stages in Shropshire and Worcestershire this Sept & Oct, with our production of ‘MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING’.
Perhaps considered one of the Bard’s most accessible and funny plays, Much Ado About Nothing has all the elements needed for a great show….where boy meets girl, boy loses girl and along the way another couple who apparently hate each other, actually fall in love as well. Oh and there are couple of villains to boot!
This production is set in Spain in 1939, against the backdrop of the end of the Spanish Civil War, and include an original score written specially for the play and performed live by a 5 piece orchestra.
2015 Old Times (Appletree Studio, Ludlow)
2015: Ghosts (Conquest Theatre, Bromyard)
Theatrical Trailer Film for ‘GHOSTS’
2014: Yes, Prime Minister (Ludlow Assembly Rooms)
2014: The Seagull (Regal Theatre, Tenbury Wells)
Theatrical Trailer Film for ‘THE SEAGULL’