I just finished watching (over our cable network) Henry V read by a determined and to the point group of Collingtonians to mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.
What struck me most about the production was how much it came off — and this is important — as an adult play about the adult world. It can be done (at some periods of history is it hard not to do it) as a triumphant and joyously imperialistic play. It can be done as a tragically bitter play about the delusions and worship of power (how could Branaugh not have done this is 1989 Thatcher England).
Here the direction and actors are seniors well versed in power and responsibility, and the complexities and consequences of the world. That so many here have exercised, or been close to those who have exercised such power — or seen the consequences of action or of failure to act, made, I think, the reading sadder and less angry, calmer and more realistic, both less hopeful, and less judgmental than it might have been.
In other words, an appropriate tone at an appropriate moment in an appropriate place.
Thanks to all who labored so hard to deliver a memorable afternoon.