Have you ever had that feeling of being in a room where everyone is laughing at a joke and you don’t get it?
I had this sensation when watching BBC’s Henry IV Part One.
Falstaff and Prince Hal (Tom Hiddleston) are doing a stand-up routine which has everyone in stitches but I couldn’t understand what was meant to be so funny.
This second part of BBC’s Hollow Crown series was a disappointment to me after being wowed by Richard II.
Jeremy Irons looks suitably stern and aloof as the King but his is little more than a cameo role in Shakespeare’s play.
Falstaff is meant to be the charismatic star turn but Simon Russell Beale in this role just seemed like a sad, fat guy who is the butt of other people’s jokes.
Apart from the battle scenes at the end, Richard Eyre’s production is dark and claustrophobic which is probably in tune with the mood of the play but I found it very dense, oppressive and impenetrable.
I’ll postpone final judgement until I’ve seen the next two parts (Henry IV Part 2 + Henry V), but I’ve a feeling that Richard II will be my favourite of the four plays.