Noel Coward Theatre
Starring: Jude Law and Jessie Buckley
★★★★ (Out of 5)
JESSIE Buckley could well be the luckiest lady in London’s theatreland at the moment.
The young Irish actor is not only starring in Michael Grandage’s enthrallingly energetic production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, but she does so alongside Hollywood heartthrob Jude Law.
But it gets better. Buckley – who herself is impeccable as Princess Katharine in Grandage’s take on the Bard’s historic tale of England’s capture of France – gets the only romantic scene in the whole bloody war affair, with none other than the acting tour de force himself.
Law, who is unquestionably the meat, veg and gravy of this production, is unstoppable in his efforts as Henry V, hell-bent on taking France, in the name of God, and supported by a motley crew of soldiers and errant civilians bolted on to the cause.
So Buckley, whose innocuous French musings on the English language are a welcome interval to all the war talk of the first half, is basically heading into Christmas kissing Jude Law.
Yes, the King of England, who manages to capture France and its Princess in one fell swoop, is professing his love to her in the most comedic yet romantic of monologues on a nightly basis.
Luckily the plucky young star is more than a match for the on-stage attention of England’s charming young monarch.
Throughout the production the battle scene is well set by solid performances from a largely male cast, not least through Matt Ryan’s priceless presentation of Welsh Captain Fluellen – a loyal ‘countryman’ of the King and purveyor of a leek, which he is not afraid to use.
But it is the second half where each falls into his or her own – as the tempo rises, the battle draws to a close and Law gets the opportunity to take some poetic license with the original text.
In an unexpected final routine with Buckley he once more demonstrates his handle on his craft with a comical crescendo that proves a well-placed lesson in slapstick Shakespeare.
While Buckley gets the real prize at the Noel Coward theatre for the coming months, for everyone else in London, there is at least the chance to catch the captivating chemistry and comedy of Law and Buckley in action over the festive season.
So if you’ve any cash left this Christmas, buy yourself a treat and catch Henry V before Law leaves the stage and heads for the big screen once again.
HENRY V runs until February 15, 2014 at the Noel Coward Theatre