Henry VI

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


Enter Miss Brighton, scissors in one hand and broadsword in the other, gloriously unencumbered by Bardolatry. Never mind that Shakespeare was an elitist and male chauvinist. Miss Brighton does relish the episodes which link up with her own preoccupations, but her adaptation is intelligent, respectful of Shakespeare’s own interests, and not at all flip where changes are necessary. Its more daring than the Royal Shakespeares adaptation, part of which Stratford mounted in 1966. To consider just the first play, Miss Brighton fearlessly lops off the Joan of Arc sub-plot to just under half its length. Then she fine-tunes what remains, cutting out Mortimer, together with his explanation of the Duke of York’s claim to the throne. That makes York less sympathetic; but the price must be paid. And then there’s the ultra fine-tuning: removing minor characters in scenes where they’re not needed and pruning the rhetorical undergrowth. The result? A clear, driving, easily understood tale of royal intrigue, which fills in the gap between the more popular Henry V and Richard III plays… A strange obsession with sequins and wire mesh in Michael Eagan’s costuming added to the evening’s peculiar flavor. His set, though, was an effective contraption. ramps, perfect for lurching down toward an enemy, rise from each end of a rectangle framed on its other two sides by parallel rows of spear points. These bristly nests look terrific, especially when lit with a smoky red and littered with discarded heads—although they did tend to snag passing hemlines. Hie acting was a wild melee of styles. The classical was strongest in Nicholas Pennell’s hideous, yet somehow appealing, Richard III, and the vernacular was weakest in Booth Savage’s roles as Gloucester and, later, Edward IV.


Male Chauvinist Wire Mesh Religious Sect Human Limitation Animal Skin 
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Copyright information

© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

There are no affiliations available

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