Tolethorpe review: Rushton’s Henry V makes you want to join his band of brothers

Stamford Shakespeare Company 2015 season at Tolethorpe EMN-150105-111356001

Stamford Shakespeare Company 2015 season at Tolethorpe EMN-150105-111356001

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“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

For many people Shakespeare can be a bit of a battle, something they were forced to sit through and try and decode at school.

Stamford Shakespeare Company 2015 season at Tolethorpe EMN-150105-111448001

Stamford Shakespeare Company 2015 season at Tolethorpe EMN-150105-111448001

But even those of you out there who don’t naturally think of the theatre and Shakespeare as entertainment should visit Tolethorpe and watch Stamford Shakespeare Company’s outstanding production of Henry V.

The show is a highly professional, gripping, emotional production of one of William Shakespeare’s best known plays, telling in part the story of the Battle of Agincourt, which marks its 600th anniversary in 2015.

The play, one of Shakespeare’s histories, was written in 1599 and is set during the 100 Years War between France and England. It explores the themes of war and the relationships between those who start them and those who fight them.

Star of the show is James Rushton as Henry V. He gives a performance full of charisma and confidence and as an audience you felt that were he a king leading an army into battle he would be a man you would follow.

Stamford Shakespeare Company 2015 season at Tolethorpe EMN-150105-111539001

Stamford Shakespeare Company 2015 season at Tolethorpe EMN-150105-111539001

The lead delivers the plays’ two famous passages with heartfelt passion and gravitas.

Rushton was well supported by a strong cast who deliver a performance of drama with brief interludes of comedy, none better than a scene entirely in French, which because of the talent of the actresses involved (Natasha Andrew as Katherine and Annie de Kremer as Alice) cut through the language barrier to deliver laughs a plenty.

On a warm summer’s evening there are few places better to watch Shakespeare than at Tolethorpe Hall’s outside theatre. We joined the crowds and picnicked outside the main house before the show and recommend you do as well.

The set on the outside stage, surrounded by covered seating, was well produced, and the actors used the set cleverly to convey different locations.

Adding an extra shine to the production was some excellent costumes, produced by Kay Roberts, Margaret Denton and Anne Mason, which really helped bring the words to life.

This is a traditional telling of the play, there is no transporting of the story to modern times, instead director David Roberts stays true to the bard’s original concept with a highly entertaining production which is well worth a watch.

Henry V is performed until July 25 on alternate weeks with the other two plays for the 2015 season - Romeo and Juliet and Tom Jones which run until the end of August.

Book online at www.stamfordshakespeare.co.uk/ or call the box office on 01780 756133.