I haven't enjoyed most of the Henry VIs as much as the first cycle, but my goodness what a jump in quality that last 15 minutes is! Shakespeare suddenly starts giving us a character, instead of a baldly propagandist sequence of events, with people chopping and changing allegiance as the plot demanded.
Having said that, I thought Tom Sturridge did very well with Henry - he must have been bloody freezing in that scene with the sheep! It was definitely raining. I also loved that shot of the crown in the bloody water, as well as the reflection on the blade.
I just read an article suggesting that the BBC might do the Roman plays next.
The adaptation for part 2 was far less successful than the opener. In the main that is due to the source material being far more episodic and the significant time shifts in the action. It is always a stretch to see why Warwick and Clarence switch sides so easily and the script did little to make that any more credible.
The production is, as to be expected, over a very high quality - but the material is not Shakespeare at his very finest.
I am somewhat dreading the finale next week - R3 is probably my favourite of all the plays and so they better not tamper with it too much!!
I caught up with the second part of Henry IV last night. Overall I enjoyed the two parts and found it much more engaging than when I had a day at the Globe seeing all three. This may be because I didn't really enjoy it until Part 3, so having it condensed for the TV made the whole story more engaging. Focussing on Hugh Bonneville's character was also a good choice for the opener.
I'm looking forward to Richard III. Mr Cumberbatch is a wonderful actor on stage and screen and he has already started to show the range and depth of Richard and I'm looking forward to him getting darker. It will be great to see RIII straight after Henry VI too, so that backstory of the characters, especially Margaret, is fresh and clear in the mind.
It wasn't the best interpretation of R3 that I have ever seen. I missed the humour in the play - which perhaps does work better in the theatre than on screen. Certainly the cuts to the Clarence/Murderers scene robbed us of some of the black comedy of that sequence.
Cumberbatch's nervous habit of tapping his ring on the chess board/table/whatever felt like a homage to Spacey's performance in House of Cards (which isn't a bad thing) but it was over-used.
Much as I have missed Margaret in other screen adaptations, I can understand why having seen tonight's production. Her presence is very difficult to explain in the court scene - and it just jarred. Much as I love her as a character on stage, she doesn't easily fit in a screen version. Having said that, Sophie O was at her best.
Dame Judi didn't seem to inhabit Cecily as I had expected - she felt very detached (part of this was due to some of the clunky cuts to her lines)
It wasn't awful - far from it. But I don't think Cumberbatch will go down as a definitive Richard. Perhaps he would be better on stage where he could have that direct relationship with his audience. Hard to tell.
Have not read the play in quite a while and think I can only have seen versions where Margaret is cut/lines given to someone else, in the text is she just sort of wandering around as shown here, a sort of prophetic commentary but somewhat random as a 'prisoner'? Sophie O great either way.
Found the years years on (is that in the text?) somewhat jarring, I'm ignoring what historically might have been true as once you start applying actual history to history plays it gets a bit messy anyway, were we to believe that Anne had been visiting the grave for ten years? That it had taken Richard ten years to woo?
Again it was great to see some great actors grappling with shakespeare but all in all this trilogy didn't grab me like the first, partly to do with the plays themselves I suppose but not entirely, I've read several articles suggesting this was done very much with the Game of Throne audience in mind, hence all the gore and a bit of sex, and whilst unarguable there is a lot of death and I'm sure it was horrific for me it got a bit much.
I'm not quite sure whether it was Cumberbatch, or the direction, or the fact that I've seen Mark Rylance perform this role, but it was a bit ... Flat. It lacked the humour that usually gets the audience to like Richard despite themselves.
I enjoyed this v much. I thought it was done v well for tv. I think any sacrifice of humour was worth it. I particularly liked the intimacy of the family idea, true brotherhood etc. Loved the ending. Didn't those two boys act well?
So Sunday night's nausea came courtesy of a migraine; but Monday night's I'm blaming entirely on the second installment of The Hollow Crown. What a bloodbath, from start to finish! I'm wondering how RIII can possibly top it...
Overall, I haven't enjoyed this series as much as the first set of stories - and not just because of the gore! I'm not familiar with these plays at all so I don't know how much may have been altered, but a lot of the characters have seemed underwritten (sorry Shakespeare!). Or possibly underpowered, due to some of the acting. I'm not sure.
I liked Anton Lesser (though I always do), and Ben Miles and Stanley Townsend were great too (took me the whole first episode to figure out where I'd seen him before: The Nether, of course!).
I do wonder how often chaps stop to take in the scenery during battle, though? Surely you'd expect the enemy to creep up behind you with a big blade and jab you with it when you're not paying attention? It seemed to do for a lot of these blokes, though...