Life’s a Breach

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Henry V at Tolethorpe
Lee, Ann and I travelled up to Tolethorpe Hall today and met Jo, Janet and Carol there.

Nothing like a bit of Shakespeare to send you to sleep stir the soul, and the ‘band of sisters’ bought tickets for a solid dose of culture – an ‘outdoor’ production of The Life of Henry V. Perfect timing then, as it’s also the 600th anniversary of Agincourt.
But before all that, we needed to prepare ourselves for all that blood and gore, so we planned a picnic in the grounds – and it was perfect weather for it. We had everything: chicken, cous-cous, salad, pork pies, sausage rolls, quiche, potato salad, all washed down with a few ready-made alcoholic mixes!

Open Air Theatre
I think I’m getting taller!

It looked like the rest of mankind had the same idea, and it was a good job we got there for midday (the official entry time for picnickers), as the grounds were pretty full when we got there. Note to self: Next time, ignore the midday entrance-time and get there early!

I think some of the guests arrived three days ago!

The Stage – Simple but effective

I’d say I wasn’t a massive fan of Shakespeare, but I’m OK with it. I’d successfully managed to avoid studying Henry V at school favouring Midsummer Night’s Dream instead. Today reminded me why! The production lasted three hours and the first half was heavy going, but we ‘stiffened our sinews’ and settled into the rather stiff seats. However, the place was packed and in spite of their stiffness, none were vacant!, and it was clear that this was a very popular production – the guy in front was even following every line from a tiny manuscript, whilst his partner was scrutinising the production in a similar fashion using the same, but printed out onto A4 pages.

The star of the show for us was clearly James Rushton as King Harry. In spite of all the cast being amateurs, this guy was mesmerising – even I was hanging on to his every word! For me, the second half was much easier to follow, with outstanding special effects and the stage-hand on the smoke machine, clearly on piece-rate! (cough!)

A great day with friends – and a surprisingly pleasant ‘Shakespeare experience’!

So much for “Men of few words are the best men” (Henry V).

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