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Druid Shakespeare: The History Plays

From 11 critic and 7 member reviews
Members say: Great staging, Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Must see

About the show

Presented as part of the international Lincoln Center Festival, the Irish Druid Shakespeare Company brings a 17-year span in English history to life through a distinctly Irish lens. More…

Mark O’Rowe’s distillation of 'Richard II,' 'Henry IV' parts I and II, and 'Henry V' into a single, continuous narrative explores the nature of leadership and honor while telling a key story in the making of the English nation—including the ruthless suppression and appropriation of the land, language, and people of Ireland.

The New York Times

"Audience members lucky enough to catch Mark O’Rowe’s seven-hour adaptation of 'Richard II,' 'Henry IV: Parts I and II' and 'Henry V' are unlikely to catch any skin diseases. They will, however, probably be just as transfixed by these plays as the vividly embodied leading characters are by that hollow but reverberant crown...The sum effect here is not distorting but illuminating, setting off a steady chorus of 'Eurekas' in your head. I’ve never before found these plays so easy to follow or so... Full Review

On Stage Blog

"O’Rowe’s work is thoughtful with a clear and precise sense of progression. The text has been judiciously cut, countering the understandable awareness of timing and length with a satisfying balance of the loaded and the light-hearted...A seriously powerful production that will no doubt change the way Shakespeare is approached. The real treat is in the conception: an Irish company performing the Henriad has an irony that gently underscores the entire production - if not glaringly highlighted o... Full Review

AM New York

"'Richard II' and 'Henry V' are better than both parts of 'Henry IV,' and the performances are also uneven. Cross-gender casting is an important Shakespeare tradition, but Hynes' decision to use it for only a few of the major roles for no discernible reason is ineffective and self-conscious. Taken as a whole, 'DruidShakespeare' is a valuable opportunity to experience the four history plays as a coherent, extended narrative in chronological order." Full Review

New York Post

"The show does have strengths, and its clarity alone can be powerful. Without being pandering or simplistic, the production makes the characters and plots accessible. And Hynes comes up with some inspired bits of staging, like her fey, cocky Frenchmen posturing before their big battle against England in 'Henry V.' But despite its scope, too much of the show just ambles along. The ambition is there, but not the raging sweep." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Each part is ardently acted and eloquently spoken. But it takes patience to experience the chapter that’s most satisfying and transporting...Both parts of 'Henry IV' prove to be largely talky affairs...'DruidShakespeare' begins and ends with arresting images that make a plangent point: As eccentric, ego-mad and empire-building kings keep busy, gravediggers do, too." Full Review

Galway Advertiser

for a previous production "The performances throughout are wonderful...The teeming canvas of Shakesperean characters, rollicking action, and blend of high poetry and earthy comedy, are viscerally incarnated with in-your-face immediacy and intimacy...From first to last, Garry Hynes, her company and 13-strong cast, deliver an exhilarating production that shows, at 40 years of age, 'Druid' is still at the very top of its game." Full Review

A Younger Theatre

for a previous production "An adaptation that Hynes, extraordinarily, stages with sustained pace and rigour...As a whole, the event is a thundering achievement in ownership of Shakespeare’s histories, not just in terms of craft but also in a sense of Irish authorship...'Druid' harnesses the Henriad in its power not to debase but to challenge the hierarchy. Irish artists have been too long hesitant to touch this epic for the difficult colonial history between nations, a resistance that now feels triumphantly overcome." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "It leaves one exhilarated rather than exhausted...Seeing the plays in quick succession, one also grasps the instability of power, which is no sooner gained than threatened. Overwhelmingly, the production also shows how Shakespeare’s kings constantly use divine authority to mask temperamental flaws...Entering the theatre at five, we emerged in time to hear the chimes at midnight – but the long haul was eminently well rewarded." Full Review

Irish Times

for a previous production "There’s nothing quite as beautiful, or as torturous, as the crown of England we see in Druid’s remarkable staging of Shakespeare’s 'Henriad', its four plays carved into a lean and propulsive telling by Mark O’Rowe. Francis O’Connor’s creation is emblematic of his industrial and earthy set and, you feel, the entire undertaking: a garland of gilded roses held within a golden crown of thorns." Full Review

Irish Examiner

for a previous production "Some gambles misfire at times. But, then, in a six-hour show that races along at breakneck speed — a mad, dynamic pageant of fire, blood, guts, and spunk — something has to give. Sinking their teeth into Shakespeare, this brilliant Druid ensemble clutch him down to the sad, saving, and sacred earth where his work belongs, and you leave stunned by the measure and the ferocity of their bite." Full Review

The Irish Independent

for a previous production "What is remarkable is how there is such energy and colour about the production that it rarely feels cumbersome, though sometimes this is at a cost of substance being sacrificed to levity. And there are some distractions in erratic costume designs. But this production is a huge achievement, Shakespeare brought to life in a brazenly Irish way that gives the lines fresh meaning and relevance." Full Review

Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Great staging, Must see

See it if want to see Shakespeare' history plays present in a most understanding a gripping way.

Don't see it if if you can't handle 7 hours of Shakespeare.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Edgy, Relevant

See it if You love Shakespeare or you are not familiar with Shakespeare. These were the 'easiest' plays to follow text due to editing and performance.

Don't see it if You hate Shakespeare. You don't like long plays.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if you love Shakespeare and want to see all the history plays in one (or two) fell swoop(s). The gender blind casting works exceptionally well

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or are an absolute purist regarding his works.

Great singing, Great staging

See it if You into stuff like this

Don't see it if You just not cool enough to

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if You love to laugh at smart humor

Don't see it if You need for life to always be serious

Great writing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Must see

See it if 40s and a up would like this show

Don't see it if The time maybe a little shorter

Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if Magical

Don't see it if Beautiful

Cast & Creatives

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