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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things you should know about Arkangel's 'Henry IV, Part One', 31 Dec 2009
In this Arkangel procuction of 'Henry IV Part One', Richard Griffiths makes a pretty good Falstaff (sounding a bit like Leo McKern), though a bit too placid-drunk, not quite enough fire in his vast belly. Hal, played by Jamie Glover (the real life son to his father in the play, Henry IV as played by Julian Glover), initially comes across as foppish, but in the early scene where he compares himself to the sun allowing himself to be covered by clouds, reveals he can handle the complexity of the character. Hal, indeed, is one of the strangest creations in literature - a coal-biter (a ne'er-do-well who later makes good), but a DELIBERATE one. He knows from the outset what he is doing.

Alan Cox is an excellent Hotspur, full of aggressive vitality. I doubt I could ever listen to another production of this play without mentally hearing Hotspur's lines the way Cox delivers them. His "O Harry, thou hast robbed me of my youth" is especially poignant. The argument between Hotspur and the Welsh warrior-poet Owen Glendower ("I say the earth did shake when I was born") is one of Shakespeare's most brilliant passages, and here it is handled well. The too-impatient Hotspur can't abide exaggeration of any kind - "mincing poetry", he calls it. The Welsh song sung by Glendower's daughter is completely enchanting - and as I may have mentioned in other Arkangel reviews, the music is one of the best reasons to hear these productions. As with Arkangel's 'Richard II', 'Henry IV Part One' has an excellent score.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry IV pt 1, 2 May 2012
Ginnie Redston (Oxon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This recording really is excellent. All parts are spoken by good 'classical' actors who are thoroughly at ease with the vocabulary and verse. For example, Richard Griffiths is a fine Falstaff, the Glovers (father and son) are Henry IV and Hal, Elizabeth Spriggs is Hostess Quickly, and that quality of casting seems to run through the whole production. The play extempore is performed particularly well. The sound effects and music are used effectively but are not overdone, so the actors have space to perform. This series was apparently the brain child of Tom Treadwell, so special thanks to him, and a special cheer should go to the director, Clive Brill. There's not much he doesn't know about radio drama - apparently he was commissioning editor at BBC Radio Drama for three years - and quiet expertise informs all these Arkangel recordings. Here's a bit about him [...]

Recorded on 98 CDs. The four and a half year project involved 400 actors, Clive Brill directing all of it. The total total playing time is 102 hours. All of the plays were recorded in studios in London, and almost 400 British actors -- many of them members of the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Royal National Theatre -- were employed, including John Gielgud, (who recorded two roles when very old), Eileen Atkins, Joseph Fiennes, Adrian Lester, Simon Russell Beale, Damian Lewis and Alan Howard.

Clive Brill, who spent seven years producing drama for BBC radio and six more for BBC television, agreed to embark on the entire Shakespeare canon in 1996. He was approached by Tom Treadwell, an academic who specialized in Elizabethan drama. He had just retired but had wanted for years to produce an audio version of all Shakespeare's plays. He formed 'Arkangel Productions' to do this.

Clive already knew many of the 400 actors who participated. Gielgud, who played Time in "The Winter's Tale" a month before his death, was in frail health. Simon Russell Beale played Hamlet, and Imogen Stubbs was Ophelia. Treadwell was disappointed not to get Paul Scofield to play Lear; instead, the role went to Trevor Peacock, highly rated among British actors.
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