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schweedie ([personal profile] schweedie) wrote in [community profile] thegreatglobe2012-07-23 08:51 pm

Thoughts on The Hollow Crown's Henry IV vs the Globe's

I spent most of last week mainlining Henry IV - I got my hands on the Globe's production of parts 1 and 2 from 2010, which were released on DVD a while ago, and then of course there was The Hollow Crown. After I'd watched them all I had lots of thoughts, and our lovely [personal profile] newredshoes asked me if I'd be willing to post them here. (And I tried to kill my darlings and cut this shorter, I did, but I think I accidentally wrote even more than I did before. I'm sorry.) So, if you're interested there are lots of thoughts and assorted video clips from the Globe under the cut!

It is difficult to compare the two productions, since stage/television are so different and what works in one most likely wouldn't work in the other, but it's interesting to see how you can perform the same text in completely different ways. And these were definitely two very different interpretations - the Globe's production (of part 1 especially) was much more lighthearted and funny overall. I think on the whole I preferred the Globe's part 1, but the Hollow Crown's part 2, with a few exceptions in both cases.

The main thing was that I strongly preferred the Globe!Falstaff and his and Hal's relationship to the HC one. Simon Russell Beale delivered a fantastic performance, but... It just didn't quite work for me. I couldn't see why he was someone people would be drawn to, someone who was the "tutor and the feeder" of Hal's riots. And what's more, I didn't get any actual affection between him and Hiddleston's Hal. Perhaps on the behalf of Falstaff, but not so much on Hal's part. What I got was condecension, a bit of amusement and some actual disdain. In the Globe's production, theirs was a relationship of equals (or as equal as they could be, in any case) who cared for one another. There was genuine affection between them. When Hal and Ned rob Falstaff and the others, Hal seems to be doing it simply because, well, it's fun, it's a jest and would've been fun no matter who the victim was. In the Hollow Crown I thought the whole scene where they confront Falstaff about it felt more, I don't know, mean-spirited. I can't watch that scene as played at the Globe without cracking up:

(One and two more scenes from right after.)

Allam's Falstaff is just wonderful. I'm aiming to use his "DEPOOOSE ME?!" at some point in my life.

I suppose you could look at the HC portrayal of their relationship as already having started to deteriorate, but the way I see it, if we don't get to see the relationship while it's at its peak, if we don't get to see mutual affection there, then Hal's ultimate rejection of Falstaff doesn't quite pack the same punch. Beale knocked that scene out of the park, he did, but for me it still didn't work as well as it could have. Actually, something I thought was interesting about that particular scene was that in the HC, Falstaff seems rather pathetic with Hal right from the start, but picks himself up to keep up appearances in front of his companions immediately afterwards. At the Globe, it's almost the opposite - he's loud and jovial from the start, but just completely deflates at the "not to come near our person by ten mile", and never recovers:

The Globe's production being more lighthearted meant that the Hal we saw in the Hollow Crown was rather dark and broody compared to Globe!Hal. I would've loved to see Tom Hiddleston go all out and portray Hal the way Jamie Parker got to in part 1, but again, I suppose that kind of performance wouldn't have worked on television, without the audience to play off of. I did think he could've come across as a little more wild, though. HC!Hal gave me the impression of someone who was mostly just playing a part, simply playing a truant and trying very hard to have fun while not quite succeeding. Even when he was laughing he looked like he was having lots of thinky thoughts underneath. I mean, Hal IS playing a part, he tells us as much early on, but still. Globe!Hal, on the other hand, was also trying - but he WAS succeeding. There were moments when you could see reality crashing down on him, and then he'd shake it off and make a joke of it, but most of the time he really was someone the King would be ashamed of, and enjoying every minute of it - HC!Hal didn't really seem all that bad in that respect. This clip is part one's Globe!Hal in a nutshell, for me.

Well, all right, he pulls it together towards the end of the play, but for a while there he is every inch the rogue prince! (It was a lot of fun for me to see Jamie Parker play Hal since I got to see him as Henry V at the Globe just recently, before I saw Henry IV, and he did stern, tormented and intense so well it's like watching a different person on stage here.)

Harry Percy didn't escape the comedy in the Globe's production, either. He was one of the things I preferred about The Hollow Crown, though I still did like Globe!Hotspur for what he was. He was definitely a hotspur, but he was a rather childish one. In the scene where he's ranting about the King wanting his prisoners and forbidding him to speak of Mortimer he was very much like an angry kid throwing a tantrum:

The Percys together were interesting to compare, too - I really liked them in the HC, while I could barely stand Globe!Lady Percy. And neither could Globe!Hotspur, it seemed, sort of. It didn't really feel as though there was much love between them at all; on the contrary, Hotspur sort of came off as not being very interested in women to begin with, which I thought was an interesting touch. Here's some Percy "banter", with bonus Welsh singing in between:

I appreciated what they did with him in the HC, because I thought he benefited from being played seriously. He's a tragic figure and deserves to be played as such - the praised heaped on him sounded a little strange in the Globe's production when what you saw was this spoiled, shouty kid.

I've realised that most of my thoughts are about part 1, which I'm guessing is because the tone is so drastically different in those. In part 2, the contrast was less stark. Jeremy Irons wins by miles and miles for playing the King, though, and while Jamie Parker is my favouritest part 1 Hal, I thought Tom Hiddleston's darker Hal worked better for part 2.

...I could probably go on and on, but I think I've gone on enough for now. *g* If you've made it all the way down here, I salute you!

If there's a particular scene from the Globe you'd like to see, let me know and I'll see if I can get it up.
snakeling: Statue of the Minoan Snake Goddess (Default)

[personal profile] snakeling 2012-07-23 11:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Okay, okay. You've convinced me to bump up the two DVDs on my wishlist from "I really really want it" to "I neeeed it" :D

The play-within-a-play scene was wonderful, and the mood so different from HC. I'm not sure I'm convinced by Henry's rejection of Falstaff, though. I don't know, something seemed a little off in his performance of that part. Maybe I should watch the entire plays.

Would you mind uploading the scene where Hotspur tries to explain to Glendower that science doesn't work like that, please? I think it's my favouritest :D
snakeling: Statue of the Minoan Snake Goddess (Default)

[personal profile] snakeling 2012-07-24 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks! <3 That was exactly the part I meant. Honest to $deity, I burst out laughing when I first read that line and Hotspur's answer, and it still makes me smile every time I think of it.

Apparently they're going to film the current Henry V, too!
W00t! I really hope they film Twelfth Night, too. I saw the original production 10 years ago at the Globe, and it was wonderful, and I've always regretted not having a recording of it.
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[personal profile] snakeling 2012-07-24 09:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Loved it! Hotspur was properly eye-rolly and Glendower was the pompous windbag we know and love :D

TN was actually the first play I saw at the Globe. I saw it twice that year, and twice the next year when they reprised it. I hope to go to London this winter and catch it at the Apollo :)

there is definitely something special about getting to relive a show you actually got to experience live
Oh, yes! I saw Richard II with Rylance as Richard and Liam Brennan as Bolingbroke a couple of times on stage, and then I managed to get my hands on a tape copy of the filmed version they did for the BBC. Unfortunately, I haven't had a VCR in years, and there's no copy to be found on the web :(

the current Richard III, which I've heard is fantastic
Mark Rylance is a fantastic actor (and a really annoying person, alas).