The heir to the throne, PRINCE HAL, defies his father, KING HENRY, by spending his time at MISTRESS QUICKLY’s tavern in the company of the dissolute FALSTAFF and his companions. The King is threatened by a rebellion led by HAL’s rival, HOTSPUR, his father NORTHUMBERLAND and his uncle WORCESTER.
Continuing along with my watch of The Hollow Crown! I had watched Richard II (review) a few months ago but only got around to watching Henry IV more recently. I’ve decided to combine my reviews of part 1 and part 2 of Henry IV in one post since they are connected.
The plot of Henry IV parts 1 and 2 is spurred by events from the past; Henry IV is ill at ease because of the nature of how he came to the crown and now there are new factions emerging–Hotspur, Richard II’s heir Mortimer, etc.–ready to usurp him. At the same time he also has a personal issue plaguing him in the form of his son, Prince Hal, Prince of Wales, who associates himself with thieves and drunks and acting foolishly in a way that is not befitting of his title or position as heir to the throne. This is a running theme throughout both episodes, especially as Henry IV’s health declines.
Like the play (review), I admit that I found the Falstaff storyline dragged a little bit. It’s a personal thing here, I was much more interested in Hotspur’s grievances with Henry IV and Henry IV and Hal’s tenuous relationship than I was with Hal’s adventures in the seedy part of London. But I cannot deny that Simon Russell Beale is brilliant in his role as Halstaff.
Once again, the casting is stellar for this production. The actor playing Hotspur was especially a highlight for the first part–he’s just so angry and hotheaded! And the accent just adds to that energy. I found him to be quite a standout in this adaptation, he really embodied the character’s name and all that the character is. Jeremy Irons is phenomenal as always, and it was interesting to watch Tom Hiddleston gradually become the man worthy to succeed his father to the throne. The scenes between the two characters were my favourites in both parts of the play.
The use of the sets was fantastic; if Richard II was all airy and light, in reflection of his vanity and out-of-touchedness with the world, Henry IV is more dowdy and sombre, reflecting a more serious reign. The outdoor locations were great for the battle sequences, it just really set the mood.
Overall I enjoyed this segment of The Hollow Crown. Although certain storylines interested me more than others, the production on the whole was great as always and the cast is phenomenal. I’m looking forward to watching the last episode (le gasp!) of the series, Henry V 🙂