The RSC live screening of Henry IV 1 was showing tonight. We did the usual early-for-the-favoured-seats thing and settled in for the marathon. Some of the audience bring flasks and picnics, which gives these sessions a slightly off-key but amusing quality – I find myself peering furtively into the tupperware boxes of total strangers to see what they have brought along. The preliminary interviews for all these live events are as irritating as finding chewing gum on the seat: there is always a shiny woman squirming at the camera … get off dear. But it’s fine once we are under way.
This was a good one. All the characters got at least some of their due, with the King obviously a shadow of his former self and wondering how it all went so wrong, a notably rabid Hotspur who was never going to be at peace with anyone and could only be a Good Thing when safely dead, and a prince drugging himself against himself. Falstaff makes or breaks this play, however, and Antony Sher had a fine old time. His Sir John was both funny and evil: a mountain of impudence in every sense, a man of utter corruption and shamelessness, with the thinnest possible streak of surviving humanity. How much did he know about himself? Hard to say. I await Part 2 with interest.