Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre, 72 Hillsborough Road, Auckland

26/02/2016 - 27/02/2016

The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

03/03/2016 - 05/03/2016

Pop-Up Globe, Bard's Yard, 38 Greys Avenue, CBD, Auckland

28/02/2016 - 09/03/2016

Production Details

“Them that shed their blood with me shall be my brother…”   

Shakespeare’s epic exploration of war, brotherhood, and what a man will sacrifice to become one of history’s greatest leaders, is given a transformative touch by leading producers SHAKEITUP! and Sharu Loves Hats. Turning the Shakespearean tradition of all-male casts on its head and presenting a new and contemporary vision, this innovative version of a traditionally testosterone-driven Henry V features a massive 40-strong all-woman cast of our finest female talent.

Henry V, 26-year-old King of England, leads his rag-tag army on a bloody adventure in France.

In Shakespeare’s theatrical masterpiece the audience is transported from the intimate intrigues and politics of royal courts to epic battles between mighty armies, following a young King destined to carry the weight of two countries on his shoulders as he secures the future of both – and in so doing, comes of age.

Led by British based international performer Jennifer Matter (www.jennifermatter.com) in the titular role, this season of Henry V will also feature previous SHAKEITUP! company members including award-winning actress Katherine Kennard (Nothing Trivial, Sparticus) as the Herald of France; Jennifer Freed (Ash vs Evil Dead, The Insatiable Moon) as The Dauphin, the Prince of France and enemy to Henry V; as well as Maxine Cunliffe (AUSA Midsummer Night’s Dream) in the pivotal role of Chorus.

Audience favourite Alison Quigan (Shortland St, former Artistic Director Centrepoint Theatre) will also make a cameo appearance, in addition to a special performance from one of Auckland’s most experienced Shakespearean performers/directors, Lexie Matheson. 

“It’s a wonderful opportunity. The cast is really strong, Jennifer Matter is an inspired choice, and I’m excited to play a role that’s written entirely in medieval French. Actually, I’m chuffed just to be in it at all! I’ve been a fan of the director Grae Burton for many years and it’s terrific to finally get to work with him. So, very excited,” says Matheson.

Produced by SHAKEITUP!, a Shakespeare company acclaimed for its unique reinventions of Shakespeare in performance, in conjunction with established producer Sharu Loves Hats, and supported by The Wallace Arts Trust, this Henry V season not to be missed.

Since 2014 SHAKEITUP! under the guidance of Artistic Director Grae Burton has produced 2 touring seasons of Shakespeare anthologies, Passionate Acts and Shakespeare’s Rebels. Burton was previously Artistic Director for the

Nelson/Tasman tour of Summer Shakespeare for five years, Tour Manager and company member for The Ugly Shakespeare Company and toured Asia with 13 Shakespeare Productions including Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night

Burton says: “Auckland audiences are in for a treat and definitely should not miss this rare opportunity to see one of Shakespeare’s most eloquent and evocative productions, with this utterly unique rendition.”

Henry V, directed by Grae Burton and Natalie Beran and produced by Sharu Delilkan (Sharu Loves Hats), with the support of The Wallace Arts Trust plays, rain or shine (please dress for the weather), at:

The Pah Homestead,
Feb 26-27, 7 pm and Mar 6, 5:30 pm
Book at www.henryv.tinytix.nz

The PopUp Globe,
Feb 28-29 and Mar 7 & 9, 7pm
Book at www.popupglobe.co.nz/2016/henry-v/auckland

The Pumphouse,
Mar 3-5, 7 pm.
Book at http://pumphouse.co.nz/shows/henry-v/

Chorus:  Maxine Cunliffe
King Henry V:  Jennifer Matter
Duke of Exeter:  Renee Sheridan
Earl of Westmoreland:  Beatrice Hunter
Duke of York/Erpingham:  Susannah Smith-Roy
Duke of Bedford/Boy Understudy:  Catherine Tomsen
Duke of Clarence:  Anna Thomas
Duke of Gloucester/Princess Katherine:  Amelia MacDonald
Archbishop of Canterbury:  Alison Quigan
Bishop of Ely:  Alison Titulaer, Anna Thomas (Feb 27 and Mar 6)
Lord Scroop of Masham/Michael Williams:  Amy Usherwood
Sir Thomas Grey/Duke of Bourbon:  Teresa Lee
Charles the Sixth, King of France:  Tatiana Hotere
Louis, the Dauphin:  Jennifer Freed
Charles Delabreth, Constable of France:  Natalie Beran
Duke of Orleans/Earl of Cambridge:  Kate Castle
Lord Rambures:  Alexandra Andrews
Duke of Burgundy:  Alexandra Khor
Governor of Harfleur, Monsier Le Fer:  Kerry Thornton
Montjoy:  Katherine Kennard
Alice:  Lexie Matheson
Mistress Nell Quickly /Captain Jamy:  Phoebe Mason
Pistol:  Genevieve McClean
Bardolph /Earl Grandpré:  Jacqui Whall
Nym /Captain MacMorris:  Alice Pearce
Boy:  Delaney O'Hara
Captain Fluellen:  Katherine Watson
John Bates:  Gerry Jaynes
Captain Gower:  Phoebe Borwick 

Producer and Publicist:  Sharu Delilkan
Director:  Grae Burton
Associate Director:  Natalie Beran
Stage Manager:  Lucie Everett-Brown and Keira Howat
Designer:  Tim Booth
Music:  Callum Blackmore
Assistant Stage Manager:  Amy Lever
Fight Choreographer:  Alexander James Holloway
Director's Assistant:  Anna Thomas

Theatre ,

Well-received by younger viewers despite gender reversal

Review by Peter Bromhead 15th Mar 2016

“Once more unto the breach!” I cried, rallying my wife and 10-year-old to mount the steps of the reproduction Shakespearian Globe Theatre, which has popped-up in our midst with apparent remarkable success.  

We were there to see Henry V, one of the bard’s more patriotic plays, a work that thinly disguises the true reasons England decided to invade France in the 15th Century. 

It’s a play that has special connotations for this writer, having first seen the play as a film in 1946, starring Laurence Olivier as Henry V, backed-up by a number of Britain’s best-known actors, and with music by William Walton. [More


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An Incomplete Herstory

Review by Nathan Joe 03rd Mar 2016

They say history is written by the winners, yet Shakespeare, for all the nationalism evoked in Henry V, is conscious of the moral predicament that his hero (if he can be called that) faces. It’s important, then, where the production stands on the subject. Is this an anti-war narrative, a celebration, a history lesson or something else entirely? War, after all, shouldn’t be dealt with flippantly or romanticised merely because it can be.

The Chorus (Maxine Cunliffe) famously opens the play with a fourth-wall breaking prologue, acknowledging the inherent limitations of the stage, asking the audience to “Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts.” While this is sound advice, and performed with poise and elegance, it also serves to highlight the problems with this production. When it comes to staging Shakespeare, the most important thing is clarity. And this is what is ultimately missing in Grae Buron and Natalie Beran’s Henry V. [More


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Female cast revel in power of Shakespeare

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 03rd Mar 2016

It is testimony to the subtlety of Shakespeare that Henry V could be both a rallying call for British patriotism in Olivier’s stirring rendition during WWII and a searing indictment of the horrors of war in Kenneth Branagh’s more recent film version. 

The local production, with an all-female cast of 29, steers a path somewhere between the two extremes. 

Playing Henry V, Jennifer Matter brings plenty of fiery passion to the celebrated St Crispin’s Day speech but also finds a note of tender regret as the death toll from the English victory at Agincourt is reported. [More]


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Rises to hugely satisfying heights

Review by Leigh Sykes 27th Feb 2016

Henry V as a play and as a character is inextricably linked with war, and with a consideration of war generally come suggestions of patriotism and machismo. Laurence Olivier’s film version focused on the patriotism of war to give Britain hope and support during World War II, while Kenneth Branagh’s later version portrayed the horrors of war for a Britain that was still recovering from the Falklands conflict. 

It’s therefore intriguing to see this most British and masculine of plays presented by an exclusively female cast in the heart of Auckland. The production takes a lead from action movies, where Charlize Theron’s performance in Mad Max: Fury Road has continued the work begun by Sigourney Weaver in changing perceptions about action movies being the exclusive province of male actors.

The look of the production has a definite Mad Max vibe, with leather being a popular clothing choice for the English lords. Accent colours in the costumes are used very effectively to differentiate between the English and the French, with the English using purple and grey accents, while the French use dark blue. This helps many of the cast play multiple characters with clear points of difference. 

The setting of Pah Homestead gives the players a clear and serene environment where our ‘imaginary forces’ are invited to work by Maxine Cunliffe as Chorus. Her regal stature and clear delivery of the verse invites us into the world of the play, and gives us a warm companion with whom to experience the story.

After this strong start, the first half of the play feels somewhat uneven in pace and tone. Much of the first scene is taken up with a long and complex description of the legal position regarding the proposed war with France.

Alison Quigan, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, skilfully guides us through the scene, making the long explanation of Henry’s legal standing clear and precise. Her subtle encouragement and appeal to Henry’s familial pride is effective and allows us to see some of Henry’s uncertainty about the proposed course of action. 

Jennifer Matter as Henry shows this uncertainty on many occasions by nervously biting her thumb. Although she responds strongly to the infamous tennis ball insult from the Dauphin, there is a lack of confidence in her Henry throughout the first scenes that makes us fear for a positive outcome to the war with France. While this does highlight Henry’s struggle to reach maturity and become the King his country needs, it makes us work quite hard to accept Henry as a decisive leader. 

The turning point for Henry (and Matter’s performance) comes with the revelation of the assassination plot by Scroop, Grey and Cambridge. Matter’s delivery of the verse is clear, crisp and intelligent throughout the play, and from this point on, her physicality matches the growing confidence that we have in Henry’s actions. “Once more unto the breach” is delivered with understanding and passion, although for me, its effectiveness is slightly reduced by the very active, hissing support from the rest of the English lords. 

Shakespeare gives Pistol, Bardolph and Nym little to work with in this play, but Alice Pearce as Nym, Jacqui Wall as Bardolph and Genevieve McClean as Pistol do wring some laughs from the audience. However, it is Delaney O’Hara as Boy who is the standout in these sections of the play. She is convincing and eminently watchable in all of her scenes, and sings beautifully. 

One highlight from the first half of the play is the gorgeously played scene between Princess Katherine of France (Amelia MacDonald) and her companion Alice (Lexie Matheson). Despite being entirely in French or terrible English, the scene is played with such clarity and joy that the audience is enthralled and delighted. 

The first half ends with the English army entrenched in France, and it feels like it has taken us a long time to get there. The pace has seemed uneven and the plot has moved forward very slowly. However, just before the interval we are introduced to Katherine Watson’s Fluellen, whose energy and commitment lift this section of the play. 

It is in the second half of the play that magic happens and this production really takes off.

The pace picks up and the decision to keep the French and British armies in the space together for the majority of Act IV pays dividends in the speed and clarity of action. It is the action in this second half that is most memorable: the brief but fierce fights choreographed by Alexander James Holloway are a highlight; Pistol’s murder of Le Fer is brutally effective and the murder of Boy is superb in its simple power.

Delaney O’Hara leads the requiem for the dead after the English have won the day at Agincourt, and her voice is beautifully clear and full of emotion. When the rest of the cast joins in the singing, shivers start to run down the spine. 

A number of other performances also delight in this second half. Amy Usherwood as Michael Williams is a highlight; Henry and Katherine combine beautifully in the ‘wooing’ scene, where Henry’s pragmatism and confidence are skilfully captured by Matter while MacDonald’s Katherine is believably confused and indignant in equal measures. 

The play ends as it begins, with the calm and measured Chorus giving us a glimpse into the future of Henry’s early death and the crowning of Henry VI, and welcoming us back to our actual surroundings. 

The production makes no attempt to make the forty fabulous females of the cast ‘act male’ and the performance is all the better for that. Instead we have an array of characters who take us on a journey. While the play does not clearly promote any one theme – it seems neither in favour of, nor against, war and Henry’s exploration of his maturity and kingliness is very understated – what we do have is a dramatic experience that rises to hugely satisfying heights in the second half. This will make an excellent addition to the programme at the Pop-Up Globe.  


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