Beaumont Theater

William Shakespeare's HENRY IV, originally two parts, was condensed into a single evening by dramaturg/adapter Dakin Matthews and directed by Jack O'Brien. Speaking of his interest in directing "the Henrys" (as they are familiarly called), O'Brien has said, "They are, first and foremost, among the greatest works of the stage. Indeed, they are English historical plays; however, they contain so much drama, so many staggeringly vivid and important roles that, as sheer storytelling alone, they nearly outweigh every other comparable play imaginable."

Shakespeare's HENRY IV is a story about nations - England and France - as much as it is a story about families - specifically, fathers and sons. HENRY IV picks up at the end of Richard II; the English throne has been usurped from King Richard II by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, now King Henry IV. The first of the play's two main plots concerns a rebellion that is being planned against King Henry by a discontented family of noblemen in the North, who are led by the young Harry Percy, known as Hotspur.

The second of the play's plots surrounds the strained relationship between King Henry and his son, Prince Hal (Michael Hayden). Amidst his father's political unraveling, Prince Hal is found drinking in bars with lowlifes, highwaymen and other members of the London underworld, including Knight Jack Falstaff.

While Hal's behavior irritates his father and other members of the royal court, an increasing number of rebels conspire to overthrow the monarchy. These two plots intersect in compelling, dramatic and sometimes humorous ways in HENRY IV, as we witness Prince Hal's transformation into King Henry V, one of the most powerful leaders in English history.