Translated by: Ádám Nádasdy (2017)
Dramaturg: Barbara Ari-Nagy
Nóra Diána Takács
Set: Lili Izsák
Costume: Mari Benedek
Music: Ferenc Darvas, Árpád Kákonyi
Prompter: Zita Kanizsay
Stage Manager: Zsolt,Mózer, Eszter Sós
Assistant to the director: Julcsi Szabó
Directed by: Pál Mácsai
“‘The time shall come,’ thus [continued Richard],
‘that foul sin, gathering head, shall break into corruption.’”
England has long been split in two with implacable tempers and deaf ears on both sides. There is inflammatory propaganda in the churches and marketplaces. Within the political camps, the spheres of interest are unpredictable, motivated by injuries, vanity and hopes of material gain.
The English King, Henry IV, is both a product and a victim of the chaos. His son, the young Henry, has withdrawn from court politics, confining himself to the tavern-haunting company of Falstaff, a long-ago washed-up, amoral and intelligent clown. On the very day that new throngs are inducted into the civil war, to the tune of hastily improvised rallying cries, sons are forced to take arms in their fathers’ dispute. The internal strife is passed from generation to generation, and no one knows how it began or how it will end.
The young Shakespeare spreads his vast material before us with enchanting prodigality. He is curious about every object of societal interest – from the king to the peasant, from the morally anointed to the common criminals, from the love lives of the elite to the back door of the bordello, from the loneliness of the conscience-stricken king on his deathbed to chaos of the battlefield. Naturally, what interests him in this early history drama, just as in his more often performed works, is human nature.
Henry IV was the first king from the house of Lancaster on the English throne. His predecessor and cousin, Richard II, banished him to France 1398, since he feared he would come to power. One year later, when Richard was deprived of his inherited properties, Henry returned to England in secret. Together with the lords, who despised their weak-handed ruler, he forced Richard to step down. Henry was crowned, and Richard was locked away in a remote castle, where not too much later he died under circumstances unclear to this day.
Henry’s reign is not without internal and external dissension. His former supporter and friend, Henry Percy (Earl of Northumberland) turns against him, joining forces with Owen Glendower, leader of the Welsh rebels. The Scots attack, and numerous lords including the Archbishop of York form a conspiracy. There are waves upon waves of rebellion for nearly ten years. After a few years of relative calm, the sick king perishes in 1413. He is succeeded by his son, Henry V.
Shakespeare concentrates this decade and a half with its countless characters into one coherent narrative: Henry IV, originally intended to be performed over two evenings.