Theatre Delicatessen's Henry V
Stepping into the basement of the Theatre Delicatessen's extraordinary new Marylebone home, the audience is plunged into a makeshift army barracks in a twentieth century, war torn city. Drawing parallels with the Falklands War, in the 30th anniversary year of that conflict, Theatre Delicatessen invites audiences to view Henry V in a new light, posing pertinent questions about our collective decisions to go to war, and the impact this has on both those who fight, and those who are left behind.
Performed in a specially constructed, immersive theatre environment, the audience takes their seats alongside the soldiers, who sip tea and play cards as they wait for battle. Seeking the meaning behind their personal experience of conflict, one of the group strikes a match, his invocation of 'a muse of fire', and they begin to perform the play, their own world merging with that of Shakespeare's characters.
Henry V marks the opening of Theatre Delicatessen's new pop up venue, Marylebone Gardens. The former offices of BBC London, Theatre Delicatessen has transformed the space into a 'theatre factory': a home for hundreds of artists and theatre makers, creating work throughout the building. This summer will see a host of artistic events taking place, many inspired by the Olympics as part of the Summer of Sport programme, before the highly acclaimed Theatre Souk returns in the autumn. On the ground floor an indoor garden has been constructed, where audiences can enjoy food and drink- or even a game of mini golf- while the summer's sporting highlights are screened, or live music plays.
The project is the latest work from Theatre Delicatessen, who have garnered an outstanding reputation at the forefront of the 'Pop Up' movement, with highly acclaimed past productions including Theatre Souk, Pedal Pusher and A Doll's House. The company specialises in creating new work in alternative performance spaces, bringing theatre to magnificent empty buildings in Central London. From 2010-11 they were resident at 3-4 Picton Place, a large derelict office building behind Selfridges. Henry V extends Theatre Delicatessen's ambition to use non-theatre spaces to breathe life and open up new and classical theatre texts to new audiences, challenging existing audiences to understand the play in a new light.
"Five years ago, a close friend, Captain Richard Holmes, was killed whilst serving with the Paratroopers in Iraq. The period of grief that I experienced, alongside his family and other friends, has shaped my view of war. Richard loved his job and there was nothing that any of us could have done to stop him serving. I see that same headstrong self-assuredness and recklessness in Shakespeare's King Henry. I am not asking with this production whether or not armed conflict is ever right or justified. Instead I want to examine and explore how we fight, how much trust we put in our leaders, what happens to those men who take part in the battle and the effect it has on our society." - Roland Smith, Co Artistic Director, Theatre Delicatessen
For more information, visit theatredelicatessen.co.uk.