I love this picture for RSC Henry V’s production, on stage now in London’s Barbican until next January. I’ve liked it since the very first moment I saw it in RSC Twitter account announcing the play. The actor playing Henry V, Alex Hassell, poses in modern clothes, perched in the throne with an easy attitude, powerful but relaxed, something that would’ve been rather difficult to achieve with his stage half armour and sword.
Many are my sensations when watching this picture: Henry is already king, but nevertheless the crown is an alien object to him. It is the gold circlet that sits in the throne, not himself; he was not born to rule, and even when his father “came by the crown” he stubbornly refused to accept the notion, preferring Falstaff and the Boar’s Head Inn to the king’s privy council and Westminster.
Although apparently relaxed, his body and muscles are tensed, the hand grasps the throne as it is a bow, ready to jump and disappear from the frame, as Henry will: his reign will be a short one, the lands so hardly won will be lost in a few years.
Congratulations to the photographer (I am sorry I have not been able to identify the author, should someone know and tell me I’ll edit the post immediately) and the art director: this picture is beautiful, meaningful and makes me want to see the production. Mission accomplished.
*Alex Hassell’s performance in Anonymous was not reduced to a voiceless face beside a proud Shakespeare. He played the leading man in Shakespeare’s company, therefore I have seen him already as Romeo, Hamlet, and, more important, Henry V. Thanks to Linnet for her comment that has finally allowed me to place that face and the voice I saw in RSC promotional videos