On the 23rd November, 5 girls from Year 10 and 1 girl from Year 9 performed in an extraordinary, abridged production of Henry V at RADA as part of the Shakespeare for School’s Festival.
Every year up to 30,000 students from across the UK perform in abridged Shakespeare productions in professional venues. The girls from Francis Holland had been selected to perform at RADA and did so with great imagination, conviction, physicality and vocal dexterity, directed by Matthew Rowlands-Roberts. The play was set during the First World War to align with the recent 100th Year anniversary of the end of the War. Dressed in traditional combat fatigues alongside an array of flamboyant hats and tunics, multi rolled upto 4 characters each whilst telling the tale of this illustrious king.
Comedy was a prominent feature of the production, specifically in the scenes involving Fimi Manoukian’s vain and passionate Dauphin, Sophie Irving’s leek munching Pistol and Mairi Stewart’s non-english speaking, French Princess, Katherine. This was wonderfully offset against the tragic loss of life that Henry V has to contend with, and the steely determination of someone who feels the weight of expectation upon his shoulders. Eloise Patterson in this role both convinced and exuded the strength and fortitude of King Henry in immortal speeches such as ‘Once more unto the breach…’ and ‘St Crsipin’s Day’, but also found elements of humour when wooing the French Princess Katherine, and found the lightness and humility of the character when praying to God. Finally, Cara Vogels and Emily Fox should be mentioned for their superb versatility changing from roles such as the proud Welshman, Fluellen through to Alice, the French speaking governess, and from the Archbishop of Canterbury through to the Duke of Exeter in lightning swift time.
This was a production that used moving theatre treads, rostra and a combination of live and recorded music, plus physical theatre and singing. All six actors deserve huge amounts of praise. They have truly set the bar high for what promises to be another wonderful year of Drama at Francis Holland.