Henry V & Playboy of the Western World
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Tue 12-Wed 13 Sep, then touring
Henry V, often perceived as the great play of English nationalism, has never really found a natural home in Scotland, for reasons one need hardly explain. Yet, in missing the play, Scots have also missed out on significant themes that have nothing at all to do with English identity, not to mention a good deal of theatrical power. This new production by the English touring company Love and Madness will be hoping to find a place in Scottish hearts with this new, much contemporised version. In it, dilemmas of leadership and war are examined, and the ruthless pragmatics of power within the play interrogated more closely.
The piece will appear in rep with a far more Celtic piece altogether, in Synge’s great story of love, language and class. But there’s also a contemporary angle on Playboy, with Christie Mahon’s sudden infamy as the slayer of his own father used as the launchpad for an exploration of issues of celebrity that might seem more relevant to our own lives than those of Synge’s Irish country peasantry. Altogether these promise some significant updating of well-kent fare.