The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607): Francis Beaumont

The Knight of the Burning Pestle: Francis Beaumont (1607)

★★★★½

(Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 2 January 2015)

First of all, a very happy New Year to all of you! My first outing of 2015 was to the wooden galleries of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, to see Francis Beaumont’s exuberantly experimental play The Knight of the Burning Pestle. This was such a success last year that it’s been revived and it’s simply perfect for the lighthearted Christmas season. Anarchic, raucous and full of music, it calls for audience interaction, conjures up plays within plays within plays, and offers a strikingly postmodern comment on the act of theatrical performance. It reduced me to tears of laughter by the interval.

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Henry IV: Parts 1 and 2 (c1597): William Shakespeare

Henry IV: Part 1: William Shakespeare

(Shakespeare’s Globe, 2010)

My first encounter with Henry IV was via the BBC’s The Hollow Crown last year, when I was unexpectedly captivated by this story of a disappointed father and his wayward son. Afterwards I wished I’d had the sense to see Dominic Dromgoole’s 2010 production at the Globe (especially since I did see their 2012 Henry V, in which Jamie Parker reprised the role of an older, wiser Hal). However, my uncle very kindly bought me the DVDs of Henry IV for Christmas and I curled up with them this week, with ever-increasing pleasure.

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