Tag Archives: Adam Sopp

Henry V


The Barn Theatre

Henry V

Henry V

The Barn Theatre

Reviewed – 27th March 2020



“Aaron Sidwell is a terrific Henry for our times, and moves deftly between his different incarnations”


The Barn’s Henry V, which ran for a month in 2019, was both a critical and commercial success. The production played to packed houses and added to that theatre’s growing reputation, which led to the Best Fringe Theatre Award at last year’s Stage awards. Now sadly dark, along with all the UK’s other theatres, The Barn live-streamed the production at 6pm last night, in honour of World Theatre Day, and to keep their own flame alive.

Henry V is not an easy play to stage. The action is choppy, and it is blessed and cursed with some of the most famous speeches of the Shakespearean canon. Not only have those speeches been given by some of the titans of theatrical history, but they have also been co-opted time and time again to serve patriotic fervour, for good or ill; most recently by Tommy Robinson and his band of thugs in the Brexit war, which is, of course, the political landscape that this production came out of, and which Hal Chambers (director) quite rightly references. Benjamin Collins’ terrific video projection work makes this quite clear, as does the staging of the political meetings: leaders behind podiums, turning on the charm for the press. The contemporary references don’t stop there; Harry himself is compared to our own Prince Harry – the party prince – and the extended rave montage at the play’s opening firmly situates him in the world of clubs and cocaine, showing the distance he has to travel to be taken seriously as a monarch. The sequence could arguably have been shorter, but the point is well made.

Aaron Sidwell is a terrific Henry for our times, and moves deftly between his different incarnations – monarch, soldier, politician – all the while displaying a charming eagerness to do the right thing. This is a Henry who cares, so very much, about his country and his countrymen, and watching the profound weight of that leadership grow within him as the play progresses is one of the pleasures of this performance, and this production. He is supported by a committed and talented cast, whose energy fills the stage to such an extent that it’s hard to credit that there are only eight of them all told. Special mention here to Adam Sopp (Pistol/Constable) and Lauren Samuels (Katherine/Boy) each of whom light up the stage with utterly connected, truthful performances. Pistol’s final breakdown is truly heartbreaking, and Samuels’ physical and emotional embodiment of two such different characters a testament to serious theatrical skill.

The battle scenes are tremendous. Expertly choreographed chaos with bone-chilling moments of explosive violence. Credit to Christos Dante (fight director) and Kate Webster (movement director) here, two members of an exceptionally talented production team, also including Harry Smith, whose original compositions provide the soundtrack. Although there are moments in which an underscore seems surplus to requirements, the music is for the most part used effectively throughout, and is the sonic realisation of the brilliantly-used industrial scaffolding set design.

It is impossible to watch this production without feeling what is missing. And it is as well to be reminded of the irreplaceable electricity of live performance. Filmed theatre is a strange phenomenon; akin to caging a tiger. Zoos have their place, of course, but living, breathing creatures need to be free.


Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Eve Dunlop


Henry V

On The Barn Theatre’s social media channels until further notice


Last ten shows reviewed by Rebecca:
Dadderrs | ★★★ | The Yard Theatre | January 2020
In A Way So Brutal | ★★★★ | The Yard Theatre | January 2020
Santi & Naz | ★★★ | The Vaults | January 2020
The Maids | | Hen & Chickens Theatre | January 2020
Tom Brown’s Schooldays | ★★ | Union Theatre | January 2020
Ghost Stories | ★★★ | Theatre Royal Brighton | February 2020
Since U Been Gone | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
The Fourth Country | ★★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
The Tin Drum | ★★★★ | The Coronet Theatre | February 2020
Superman | ★★★½ | The Vaults | March 2020


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The Dog Beneath the Skin – 3 Stars


The Dog Beneath the Skin

Jermyn Street Theatre

Reviewed – 9th March 2018


“bubbling amusement that frequently fizzes into outright laughter”


After stunning snow, followed by Spring sunshine, London today resumed normal services and only ceased drizzling to tip it down at regular intervals! This meant arriving at the theatre with squelching wellies and dripping hat, and In need of cheering up!

This was the first time I’ve seen an actual ‘stage’ inside the Jermyn Street Theatre. The studio accommodated it well and it split the space interestingly. The set (designed by Rebecca Brower) gave little away about the continental escapade to come, as we waited for the lights to dim, it felt like we were assembled in a country church hall.

The story opens in a sleepy English village with a fairy tale style challenge and quest, which we embark on with our hero (played by Pete Ashmore) and his new companion (played by Cressida Bonas), a whisky drinking, card playing dog …

The journey that follows takes us through countries that do not exist, but which mirror Europe in the 1930s, with its monarchies and corruption and growing unrest. It is a madcap, fast paced trip to say the least!

The thought provoking satire of society and politics between the wars is a constant bubbling amusement that frequently fizzes into outright laughter. The story, although it twists and turns all sorts of corners, remains a basic chase. The script (by W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood) is more poetry than prose and changes pace throughout. The remaining cast (Edmund Digby Jones, Eva Feiler, Rujenne Green, James Marlowe, Suzann McLean and Adam Sopp) has multiple roles to play, each with a lot of lines to deliver, which they do beautifully, in song, in rhythm and with gusto.

They shift both scene and actual scenery fluidly, as props and backdrop alteration are woven cleverly into the action. The ever changing lighting (by Catherine Webb) sets the tone, pace, and atmosphere for each scene, and the quick-changing cast are masters at flitting in and out of character.

A lot is packed into this production. The tale gallops across countries, in and out of hotels, brothels, hospital and prison. It travels by train and boat, meets villains and comrades, and steers our hero towards home. The story offers echoes of 21st Century political and social division: Of derision of ‘experts’. Of countries divided. Of hope for a fairer future.

The show is very good; the action doesn’t lull, I laughed aloud, the cast is engaging and my fellow audience members were grinning throughout. And despite the familiarity of ‘the hero seeking the almost impossible task to win fair maiden’, there are many moments of unexpected sidetracking that are novel and entertaining.



Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Photography by Sam Taylor


The Dog Beneath the Skin

Jermyn Street Theatre until 31st March



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