I had mixed feelings about The Globe's Henry IV, Part 1, but mostly I enjoyed it. Frankly, with a few exceptions, the acting was not all that good. King Henry, for instance, was not at all kingly. Light voice, loose body movements, monotone delivery...no authority, no dignity; he came across as just a ranting old man. Prince Hal and Hotspur were played by two puppies who yipped their lines while bouncing around the stage like a couple of hyperkinetic kids. They were both obviously of the school of thought that if you say your lines fast enough, the audience will never know it's poetry. The women, in their tiny roles, gave high-schoolish performances.
But there were two outstanding performances, not coincidentally given by the two actors with the best voices. One, of course, was Falstaff, played by Roger Allam, a man completely comfortable in the role. Part of his performance was schtick (director-instructed, I suspect), but Allam's sense of comic timing carried it off beautifully. At times you could see him working the audience, but he did it with such panache that you didn't mind at all. The scene following the robbery was hilarious, real laugh-out-loud funny. That scene alone was worth the price of a ticket. This was Allam's play; all those royals and other people were just incidentals.
The other outstanding performance was given by William Gaunt in the role of Worcester. Beautiful, resonant voice, and Gaunt delivered his lines as if they actually had some meaning. I wish he had been cast as Henry.
It was an unbalanced production; clearly more attention had been given to the comic scenes than to the serious ones. Perhaps that's necessary, with this play; Falstaff plays funnier than he reads. But the serious scenes should be something more than just waiting periods until Falstaff comes back.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing how they all do in Part 2.
[This message has been edited by Barbara (edited 08-11-2011).]