In 2012, as part of the cultural element of the London Olympic Games, the BBC contributed four productions of the Plantagenet plays, Richard II, Henry IV i and ii and Henry V. The series featured a panoply of top British acting talent, consistently excellent cinematography and despite being shot almost entirely on location, managed to maintained a theatrical flavour by confining itself theatrical resources and personnel, rarely reaching for support from CGI to amplify a mise en scene. Simon Russell Beale took a surprising, original and for some, off-putting line with Falstaff, presenting a desperate, cynical, old and fearful man. The whole cycle stressed the unprincipled struggle for existence and power art the expense of the good-natured ribaldry. However, the productions never fail to interest, provoke and ravish the eyes.
A little touch of Henry in the Night
It's hard to understand why Oxfordians try to tie the plays to familiar biographical landmarks when the most astonishing characteristic that they all share is their inventive originality. Looking for an authorship candidate who calls himself 'The Italian Earl' makes no sense when dealing with a man who contributed so much innovation and defined what it means to be English.
Oxford didn't write Henry V.
There are three distilled essences of Shakespeare in Henry V. Each is individually an anathema to the idea that they were written by an aristocrat, or a courtier, or an amateur, or a playwright from 20 or even 2 years earlier; by anyone, in fact, other than a playwright who had learnt his practical stagecraft on the job. As the 1590s draw to a close, we are looking at the work of a man who is consciously building a new theatrical tradition beyond the horizons of antiquity, beyond Kyd, Marlowe, Dekker, Chapman and the rest of the Elizabethan crew.