No toying with the Doll's House at the Young Vic
Theatre related stuff on TV and Radio July 12 -15

'Allo 'Allo Henry V - Propeller is London Calling

Propeller-3-copy-690x459A production of Shakespeare's Henry V that incorporates the 'Allo 'Allo theme tune, a Clash song and some bad French accents is never going to be one critiqued for nuanced performance and character arc but then this is Propeller Theatre Company's Henry V.

Last year they brought us Richard III with chainsaws and Comedy of Errors with sparklers clenched between naked buttocks so a little Gallic ribbing is to be expected, demanded even, when our English protagonist spends most of the play fighting in France.

Propeller's skill in eking out the wit and entertainment is second only to its marriage of irreverence and the more serious moments - I would love to see their take on Hamlet at some point.

Henry V isn't quite in the same league as the all-male theatre company's Richard III and Comedy of Errors though. Having seen Tom Hiddleston as Henry V-in-the-making in the BBC's Henry IV parts one and two just a week ago, I couldn't help draw charm comparisons with Duguld Bruce-Lockhart who takes the lead for Propeller. Hiddleston oozes it and while Bruce-Lockhart certainly has his moments his isn't quite as charismatic a performance and this is the story of a King who wins hearts and minds, persuading his depleted and injured forces into battle once more.

Propeller feels very much like company acting, here the muse which sets the scenes becomes a chorus for the ensemble. It makes it difficult to single out performances but Karl Davies does do a particularly noteworthy job as one of the few female characters playing the non-English speaking Princess Katherine whom Henry woos.

This is Shakespeare with balaclavas and accordions. This is Shakespeare with drumming and bursts of songs such as London Calling. This is Shakespeare in riot gear and with punchbags, with tennis balls and flashing plastic hearts. This is Propeller Shakespeare. I'm going to give it four and a half stars.

It's on at the Hampstead Theatre where it runs in rep with The Winter's Tale until Jul 22.