What makes a King? What makes a father? Shakespeare's monumental history play travels to the heart of family, duty and country.
This innovative film, recorded before a live audience, documents the Donmar Warehouse's all-female stage production, adapted from William Shakespeare's two plays about King Henry IV, Prince Hal and Falstaff.
The bold, contemporary production is presented as if played by inmates of a women's prison and was described by critics as 'unforgettable'. The director for both stage and screen is Phyllida Lloyd, and Harriet Walter is Henry IV.
The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy began in 2012 with an all-female production of Julius Caesar led by Dame Harriet Walter. Set in a women's prison, the production asked the question, "Who owns Shakespeare?" Two further productions followed: Henry IV in 2014 and The Tempest in 2016, all featuring a diverse company of women.
The Trilogy enthralled theatre audiences in London and New York and was shared with women and girls in prisons and schools across the UK. The film versions were shot live in a especially built temporary theatre in King's Cross in 2016, and now offer screen audiences unique access to these ground-breaking productions.
"These dramas are about rebellion, leadership, guilt and surrogate family; about a youth pulled between two father figures, one a common thief, the other a royal usurper; about who runs England. The setting and casting bring these concerns intensely alive. And this isn't Henry IV set in a prison; it is prisoners acting Henry IV. There's a crucial difference." (The Financial Times)
"Watching over all is Harriet Walter's Henry IV - part monarch, part director, an autocrat determined to have things right, and her own way. Weary and cynical, the kingly mask scarcely drops, save for a silent moment of softening ... It's the tiniest of gestures, the quickest of expressions, but its weight here is immeasurable." (The Arts Desk)