Mission accomplished (edited post)

Official picture for RSC Henry V with Alex Hassell as King Henry.

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.

HV RSC Keith Pattison
A pic of the production by Keith Pattison

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.

Alex Hassell appeared very briefly in “Anonymous”*.

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


8 thoughts on “Mission accomplished (edited post)

    1. Thank you for your comment… And, thanks to it, I’ve realized AT LAST where have I seen Alex Hassell before, and that we know quite well his face, as he made not only a mute presence in Anonymous… He played the main actor in Shakespeare’s company. That’s why when I checked on YouTube today his RSC Henry V I realised where have I heard before that voice and saw that face on stage

  1. it is a nice photo indeed, it keeps with the concept of the photos for the series of productions they did and which are now revived:
    Here’s the one with DT as Richard II for the production which was on the cover of the program too: http://40.media.tumblr.com/a733ade4c10f40d7e9519a5b8c070b7e/tumblr_mh748qz1921qijoeyo1_r1_1280.jpg

    As to the play, it is one of my favourites and it does take an actor of considerable charm and energy to pull it off 🙂 And he is one of Will’s hero kings, maybe the only one actually. I’ll never forget either Jude Law or indeed my very first one, Jamie Parker, in the role, both live on stage, the latter at the Globe. You might think that scene is for the movie, but imagine the same scene today, in 30 degrees heat at the Globe with a very similar reaction 🙂 That crowd would have followed him anywhere he lead.
    Not seen the movie, maybe i should (unless it is another Hollywood-ised version of Shakespeare, in which case i will skip as Shakespeare doesn’t need that H glamour, he’s alive and very present today, thanks very much :-))

    1. To begin from the end… anonymous has nothing to do with “Shakespeare in Love”, if that’s your concern. It deals with the authorship issue; I’ve liked it a lot.
      I bought Globe’s DVD of HV at Globe theatre and I’ve seen the audience reaction. I have the commented DVD of Anonymous and director says that the reaction of the audience was not rehearsed, that it came spontaneously. Moreover it was shot in Germany and most of the extras knew little English so it was pure emotion and thrill when they shot that scene.

      1. ah that is good to know 🙂 i find it fascinating how Shakespeare elicits strong reactions even today 🙂
        I didn’t dislike Sin L per se, it just had little to do with Shakespeare or his plays 😉 I dislike it when people feel they have to interpret or change what he wrote because they think it either doesn’t apply or people can’t understand it, and i disagree 🙂 It’s so human i think people connect with it very much like 400 years ago, he knew exactly what buttons to push.

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