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About Henry IV
RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and the creative team that brought you the acclaimed production of Richard II, continue their exploration of Shakespeare’s History plays at the Barbican with Henry IV Parts I & II, an epic, comic and thrilling vision of a nation in turmoil.
RSC Associate Artist Antony Sher returns to the Company to play the infamous comic knight Falstaff. He is joined by Jasper Britton as Henry IV and Alex Hassell as Prince Hal. Jasper returns following his performances in The Taming of the Shrew/The Tamer Tamed (2003). Alex returns to the RSC following his recent credits in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cardenio and The City Madam (2011).
With his crown under threat from enemies both foreign and domestic, Henry IV prepares for war. Having deposed the previous king, he is only too aware how tenuous his position is, and the price to be paid if he falters. As his father gets ready to defend his crown, Prince Hal is languishing in the taverns and brothels of London, revelling in the company of his friend, the notorious Sir John Falstaff. With the onset of war, Hal and Falstaff are thrust into the brutal reality of the battlefield, where Hal must confront his responsibilities to family and throne.
King Henry's health is failing as a second rebellion threatens to surface. Intent on securing his legacy, he is uncertain that Hal is a worthy heir, believing him more concerned with earthly pleasures than the responsibility of rule. Meanwhile, Falstaff is sent to the countryside to recruit fresh troops. Amongst the unwitting locals, opportunities for embezzlement and profiteering prove impossible to resist as Falstaff gleefully indulges in the business of lining his own pockets. As the King's health continues to worsen, Hal must choose between duty and loyalty to an old friend in Shakespeare's heartbreaking conclusion to this pair of plays.