Harry the Sixth
By William Shakespeare
From 23 July
Playing at the Globe and touring the UK
Running time: 2 hours 15 mins (approx) including interval
King Henry VI
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester / Old Clifford / Father Who Killed His Son
Duke of Suffolk / Jack Cade / Montague
Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester / Alexander Iden / Lord Hastings
Charles the Dauphin / Richard (Later Duke of Gloucester)
Young Clifford / Duke of Somerset
Duke of Exeter / Duke of Burgundy / Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March / Dick the Butcher
John Talbot / Edmund, Earl of Rutland / Son Who Killed His Father / Bastard of Orleans / Duke of Buckingham / Prince Edward
Reignier, Duke of Anjou / Edward, Earl of March (later King Edward IV)
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York / Lewis XI, King of France / Duke / Earl of Somerset
Duke of Alençon / George, Duke of Clarence / Smith the Weaver
Joan of Arc / Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester / Lady Grey
Earl of Warwick / Lord Talbot
This production has now closed.
'Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed.'
Following the death of Henry V, celebrated for having united England and subjugated France, divisions appear at the highest levels – first between those around the infant Henry VI, later between the two great factions in English politics: the houses of Lancaster and York. Only the young Lord Talbot, locked in combat with the bewitching and enigmatic Joan of Arc, seems capable of redeeming a divided and dishonoured kingdom.
The plays which make up Shakespeare’s Henry VI create a world without ideology; a savage time, when the heroes are not kings, but formidable women, such as Joan of Arc, or rebels, such as Jack Cade.
Bold characterisation, black comedy, rhetorical power and, in the personality of Henry VI, touching pathos combine in Shakespeare’s powerful rendering of a country racked by civil war.
Shakespeare almost certainly did not set out to write a trilogy. Each play can be enjoyed without knowledge of the others.