City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Henry The Fifth, Traverse Theatre, Imaginate Review


By Justine Blundell - Posted on 12 May 2015

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Alex Austin and Tanya Lattul,  Henry the Fifth Unicorn Theatre, Photo Manuel Harlan 2(1).jpg
Show Details
Venue: 
Traverse Theatre
Company: 
Unicorn Theatre
Production: 
Ellen McDougal (director), James Button (set and costume designer), David W Kidd (lighting designer), Emma Laxton (sound designer), Alison De Burgh (fight director).
Performers: 
Alex Austin (Henry), John Biddle (Distant Cousin/King of France), Tanya Lattul (Katherine), Offue Okegbe (Narrator).
Running time: 
60mins

Unicorn Theatre’s Henry the Fifth throws in a bit of history, a bit of Shakespeare and a lot of artistic licence to get the 2015 Imaginate Festival for children and young people off to a great start.

Henry V of England is not a boy, nor yet quite a man – and it shows. The royal coffers are empty, the royal palace is crumbling, and so his eyes wander across the Chanel where he spies a bigger castle and the possibility of rich and easy pickings. And off he goes, resuming the Hundred Years War in the not-at-all-childish quest for more, more, more.

Dressed in the teenage de rigueur hoody, Alex Austin as Henry cheats and fights and sulks and slouches his way to a sort of glory. Much of the action takes place in France, depicted here as a great big sandpit – a fitting arena in which to enact unfettered childish desires and an infantile sense of entitlement.

All of our history is glimpsed only through the eyes of the storyteller, and so it was that in the telling of this tale the real power lay with the narrator. As long as he was wearing the special tailcoat he could direct events as he pleased, presenting colourful interpretations of some facts and ignoring, or completely inventing, others.

This production chimes with the ethos of both Festival Director, Tony Reekie, and Unicorn’s Artistic Director, Purni Morell, who insist that children’s theatre is never patronising, dumbed-down or dull. It’s great entertainment for the younger audience (it’s aimed at 8+ but is accessible for those a bit wee-er) but also works for the adults, who will appreciate the not-so-hidden analogies and tongue-in-cheek ironies that make this production a lot of fun.

Runs 11th – 13th May