“Henry VI Part 2” by William Shakespeare

at Shakespeare’s Globe, Sunday 13th May 2012

The time has come. After a handful of sub-par productions presented as part of the World Shakespeare Festival, the Globe to Globe season has struck shit with the National Theatre of Albania’s take on Henry VI Part 2. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a shoddy, lazy production of a Shakespeare play.

If there was an interpretation, it was nigh-on impossible to spot. The extent of Adonis Filipi’s direction was a decision to put the opposing sides in red and blue and shove in a number of under-rehearsed movement pieces, which involved out-of-time actors performing steps either up and down or round and round (the séance is particularly laughable). Oh, and Filipi also throws in some scooters at the beginning for good measure. Don’t ask me why.

If audience members come out of this production thinking it was a play about people standing and shouting at one another, they’d be forgiven; I don’t know whether or not the National Theatre of Albania has an amateur-quota to fill, but it certainly feels that way. The actors look bored when not speaking, gazing into space or looking at the audience. Indrit Cobani’s Henry is weak and lifeless with no clout, and Yllka Mujo’s performance as Eleanor is completely overdone. There is some redemption in the form of Ermira Hysaj’s stoic Margaret, though her relationship with Suffolk (a passable Dritan Boriçi) is barely explored.

Lay this on top of Anila Zajmi Katanolli’s showy costumes, Armand Broshka’s quietly filmic but ill-fitting music and scene changes which wouldn’t look out of place in a school play, and you can imagine the results. I didn’t know it was possible, but Filipi has managed to create a production one of Shakespeare’s most political plays which says almost nothing.

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64 thoughts on ““Henry VI Part 2” by William Shakespeare”

      1. Hi Mr. Hutton. I am a journalist from Albania . I am very interested to know little more about you and your profession. I need this information because your writing about the albanian National theater presentation is very important. i am happy that someone finally say the truth. Thank you.

      2. Dear Dan…

        I have seen the Albanian play and also I have read the paly… i have studied the Life of Henry the VI… and by your article i have understood that you don’t know nothing about Henry the VI… Nothing…. ” Henry VI (6 December 1421 – 21 May 1471) was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. Until 1437, his realm was governed by regents. Contemporaneous accounts described him as peaceful and pious, not suited for the violent dynastic civil wars, known as the Wars of the Roses, which were to commence during his reign. His periods of insanity and his inherent benevolence eventually required his wife, Margaret of Anjou, to assume control of his kingdom, which contributed to his own downfall, the collapse of the House of Lancaster, and the rise of the House of York.” ect ect… I advice you that before writting an article, you read something about what you will writte first…..

  1. Spot on, sadly. Except that the pirate captain (if that’s what he was – what with the enormous beard, eye patch, wooden leg and missing arm it was so hard to be sure) and the random bystander who kept slapping poor old upside-down-glasses Lord Saye with his dangling sleeve deserve a mention for relieving the boredom and causing a certain amount of childish giggling.

  2. A splendid review, however there are a few key points of interest that I feel you missed and it’s important that they’re mentioned. These include:
    -the penguin dance (black-hooded, white-gloved, thigh-slapping fun) which preceded Gloucesters’ murder- represented brilliantly by a tartan and plywood bed seemingly from ikea,
    – the convincing casting of Suffolk as the love interest of Queen Margaret (casting in general but let’s not go there)
    – general sleeve issues
    – hunchbacked monk with limp
    – the blind girl who got lapped three times on the way to London (thinking about it this may have been the most convincing performance of the entire production)
    – the cabbage in the string bag
    – fantastic faux facial hair
    -the run away throne on wheels which stole the show

    There were just so many highlights, I can see how you couldn’t fit them all into your initial review.

    I’m just sad that this production only ran for two shows, I’d have liked to experienced it again.

    By far the most entertaining production of the Globe to Globe festival so far.

    Hope you find this useful, enjoy the rest of the shows
    Clare

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed your review though I feel there are a few key elements that you missed which should be brought to your attention. These include:
    – The penguin dance (black-hooded, white-gloves, thigh-slapping fun) which preceded Gloucester’s murder- represented brilliantly by a tartan and plywood bed seemingly from ikea
    – convincing casting of Suffolk as the love interest of Queen Margaret
    – fantastic faux facial hair
    – the blind woman who got lapped three times on the way to London
    – the hunchbacked monk with a limp
    – Cabbage in a string bag
    – general sleeve issues
    – the runaway throne on wheels… Which stole the show

    I’m just sorry this production only ran for two shows, I’d have like the chance to experience it again.

    An unexpected comic masterpiece.

    I hope this helps 😉 Enjoy the rest of the festival.
    Clare

    1. EPIC comment fail.
      Wrote this on my phone and consequently ended up posting twice.
      Next time, i’ll wait till i’m home and on my computer 🙂

  4. Hi .I am a journalist . I am intersted about your writing for the performanc of our national theater.i need to make an article for the performanc .thank you very much. If you have an e-mail adress it will be better.

      1. Hervin plehra thuaj…..Kto jane jashtqitja e kombit, kurvat e tij me te ndyra!!

      2. Po po patjeter i nderuar qe nuk ke guxim te flasesh ne emrin tend te vertete.Une quhem Adelina dhe jo Linka…..Uroj te mos jesh ndonjeri nga ata qe mund ti kete shkellur ne kallo me burrerin apo aftesine e vet Hervin Culi. Dhe thuaja Hervinit keto e jo mua.Po si gjithmon pjesa me e madhe e shqiptareve fshihen prapa burracakerise se tyre….Nese une i kerkoj ndershmerisht ketij zoterie te di per te e profesionin e tij duke menduar se eshte rruga me e drejte per te mos gabuar ne referenca apo shkrime mediokre per shfaqien ne fjale ,do te thote se jam shume pozitive dhe e drejtperdrejte per ata qe duan ta kuptojne. E per sa i perket profesionit e bera qe te kisha nje pergjigje sa me te kontrolluar e serioze nga zotria autor i shkrimit.Jam shume e kujdesshme dhe nuk dua te gaboj duke marre si te vertete cdo gje qe thuhet e shkruhet.Ju vazhdoni shani boten shani Hervinin e ke tju dali perpara…..kjo eshte promoja me e mire e mundshme per nje njeri..Dhe here tjeter mundohu te kuptosh llogjiken e asaj qe shkruajne te tjeret e pastaj nxir vrer. Tung e kalofsh bukur.

      3. Po Hervini tek emisioni i pasdites ne Top-channel na e beri kritik te madh kete Danin moj Adelina, madje na e citoi me gjithe pasion ate…. Dhe ti me thua qe doje te siguroheshe se ky mos ishte jo i sakte ne ate qe thoshte? Apo nuk ke pasur mundesi ta shohesh Hervinin ate nate? Profili i ketij Danit thoshte qarte: “Jam student qe studioj per regjizure dhe aktrim. Dashte zoti i mbaroj mire studimet…”.Dhe ti na shkruan: “Nese une i kerkoj ndershmerisht ketij zoterie te di per te e profesionin e tij duke menduar se eshte rruga me e drejte per te mos gabuar ne referenca apo shkrime mediokre per shfaqien ne fjale ,do te thote se jam shume pozitive dhe e drejtperdrejte per ata qe duan ta kuptojne”. Ç’te kuptojme ne me shume? U be copa e kalamanit me qyrra nen hunde te marre neper goje Yllka Mujon e Bujar Asqeriun me 30 vite karriere skenike? Gjeja me e mire qe duhej bere si nga ti e si nga ata medioker gazetar te Tiranes, qe botuan keto idiotesi (ku as vete Londra apo Beogradi nuk i botoi) ishte injorimi i ketyre palaçove pseudo-kritike forumesh interneti.Hajd’ mbeç me shendet!!

      1. Ik moj ti kartore thyej ndonje kar tjeter andej. Nuk ke lene kar Tirane pa thyer, do te qiesh edhe me femije Londineze tani? Dole dhe gazetare Shqiptare ti pale, fytyra jote. Ke inat se nuk pranojne ne teatrin tone kombetar nje cope kurve pa vlera si ti.Aktore e roleve te treta….

    1. E c’rendesi ka si shkruhet, me te madhe a jo. si gjithmone, e kemi te veshtire te pranojme si te rritur e te pjekur kritikat, dhe kthehemi duke u kapur pas cikerrimave te parendesishme. nese ka qene vertete keq, dhe me cpashe askush s’paska thene fjale te mira, sh mire ka bere ky tipi qe na ka nxire, te vene mend shqiptaret dhe te mos marrin delir per kot. se te gjithe ata te trupes qe vajten ne globe, po mbahen sikur c’jane e c’kane bere. dicka ne uje paskan bere, asgje me teper

      1. Epo te pranosh te kritikohesh edhe nga nje femije moj Alda, do te thote qe je femije vete. Po te kesh turp. Kjo me ka mbetur te them si patriot, duke pare qe po ben avokaten e djallit. Te ishte kohe tjeter do ishe denuar per tradheti te larte ndaj kombit tend. Ke dhe emer Shqiptar pale…..

    1. The ‘real’ critics (though I don’t know how you differentiate – everyone is a critic) pretty much say the same as me (though I’ll accept they do so far more eloquently). I didn’t realise that being “an euphoric kid” meant I had any less right to say what I think.

  5. I did not understand your view about costumes and the music. Can you be a little more specific? Thanks

    1. Hi Johnny. The costumes to me seemed garish and overly-bejewelled. They weren’t incredibly well made, as a lot of them seemed to be fraying and actors had issues with the sleeves. The blue/red delineation was clear but overly-simplified too.

      I liked the music which wasn’t played live – I’d happily listen to it on my own in my room – but it felt utterly out of place in the broad and still production. It sounded to me like a film soundtrack but didn’t work in the theatre.

      Hope that makes a little more sense.
      Dan

  6. I do not think that theater music has a significant change to the film music to the end. If the interpretation of the actors were bad, this is another thing, and I do not think music should be blamed at this point or not? In my opinion it was a beautiful theater music. Best regards!!

    1. Ok that’s a fair point. Perhaps it’s a matter of taste, but I do think film music and theatre music are extremely different entities (though that’s not to say they can’t be influenced by one another). Thanks for your comments.

    1. If you’re going to denounce someone for being young, best not to react like a child yourself. Shame you couldn’t engage in an adult discussion; your response someone negates the sentiment.

  7. I see that, you are even the music critic now. Sorry, are you an instrument player? Are you a composer? Music teacher? What film or theater music you have composed before?

    1. When did I ever say I thought I was a “great critic”?

      Also, you don’t have to be a musician to appreciate and analyse music, just like you don’t have to draw in order to discuss art. The only criteria for writing a review of something is that you’ve experienced the work in question; I’ve never listened to a heavy metal rock album before but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to write what I think about it.

      Oh, and just so you’re aware, I have created theatre music before. Please don’t make these assumptions if you don’t know me.

  8. I agree- it was the worst production i have ever seen and that includes students and Amateur ones -how it was ever selected I don’t know – whilst two of the actors tried to give some credibility the costumes were so ill sorted and ill fitting that the entries of the messengers had the audience struggling to suppress laughter most of the time.
    I left at the interval and would have left sooner if i could!

  9. Mr. Hutton, I have some questions for you, if you will not misunderstand me.
    1. Have you seen before “Henry VI, Part II”? Considering that the Albanian National Theater performed it, as an absolute Premiere after 600 years in “Shakespeare’s Globe”?
    2. Do you feel yourself as a professional, to judge the interpretation of actors with 40 Years of Career and titles “Distinguished Artist”?
    3. Why only attacked Albania and any other theatrical troupe? Perhaps because, you did not know very well Albania as a country? And you thought that, you could offend easy the Albanian National Theater, yes?
    Thank you.

    1. Anthony,

      Many thanks for your message. I’ll try and answer as best I can.
      1. I have seen Henry VI, Part II before, both as a film and as a theatre production as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Histories Cycle” a few years ago. Why do you ask?
      2. I’m by no means a professional, but surely that gives me no less right to write what I think? I’m a keen theatre-goer and have been going to the theatre for many years, so I think I have a pretty good feel for what’s good and what isn’t. Also, just because someone is called a “Distinguished Artist”, we shouldn’t accept that they’re always going to be brillant no matter what; there are some people here in the Uk with similar titles and prestige, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re any good. Also, not everyone has to be good 100% of the time – everyone makes mistakes.
      3. I never set out to offend anyone. I was merely writing a review of my thoughts on that particular production. I researched Albania and its National Theatre before I saw the production in order to get a feel for the culture, but it’s true that I don’t know much about the theatrical tradition. In this case, however, I don’t think knowing anything more about the theatre scene in Albania would have made me enjoy the production any more. I also don’t think I ‘attacked’ anyone, but nonetheless I was not specifically ‘attacking’ this theatre company. I’m sure the Albanian National Theatre produces fantastic productions at other times – this wasn’t one of them. I have nothing against either Albania nor its National Theatre, only this production.

      Hope this answers your questions.
      Dan

      1. Oh Danny boy, is the time…. Go to sleep now with your bear in the arms 😉 ….You great critic!!

    1. I don’t know who you are, what you do or where you live, but I’d like to say thank you for entertaining me and many others with your comments over the past few days. It’s been great fun laughing at your idiocy.

      1. You’re welcome your mother fucker 😀 (Go to entertaining with your friends now, with the pussy of your mother)

    1. Hey you DUMB Serbian mother fucker, go to translate well your fucking language to English in “Google translate”!! Your translation have sense from English to Serbian, but not from Serbian to English as you did, you fucking idiot!
      Your translation from English to Serbian is: “јеби Бриан у сероњо фуцкер мајке … и ….. ви Бриан!” and have sense….But this who you write have no sense in English you retarded….

    2. “FUCK BRIAN IN ASSHOLE FUCKER MOTHER …AND…..you too bRIAN!!!1!”??? WTF?? HAHAHAHAHAH……..

  10. WTF? Hey Danny boy, this (Kieran) must be one of your fiends i guess?! I think you are a band of dumbs there. One great art critic, the other illiterate retarded one…Oh my god, what kind of retards…..

  11. I dashur Arber nga Teatri Kombetare qe mund te jesh nje prej ikonave te tij. Inteligjenca dhe te qenurit artist kuptohet shume mire qe le per te deshiruar nga gjuha qe perdorni. Mua nuk me pelqejne ne teatrin kombetare sepse e para nuk ma ka ndjere te thyej nga ato gjerat qe permend ti dhe ti me duket se mund te jesh ndonjeri prej tyre dhe e dyta sepse nuk e quaj dot veten artiste apo aktore qe te barazohem me ju sepse do ishte shume dhimbshme te kisha edukaten dhe moralin tuaj. me ka ruajtur Zoti qe nuk jam pjese e njohjeve tuaja se me kete edukate qe keni vetem artist nuk mund te quheni.Shendet e te mira dhe mundohu ta lexosh pak e ta kuptosh se cfar i kam shkruar zotrise dhe pse…..e kam bere pikerisht i nderuar per te mos rene pre e gjykimeve te dobta dhe pa vlere qe mund te bej kushdo. Dhe sa per nacionalizem e tregove vet qe edhe Shqiptaret e tu pa te hyr gjemb ne kembe prej tyre ti thuash fjalen e fundit. Urime per shfaqien dhe per ato ne vazhdim zoti ARTIST.

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