OK, so some final thoughts on the play.
I loved last month’s The First Part…. this month’s Second Part, not so much. It’s kind of like Jaws. Loved the original, but the sequel just is sort of “meh”… As a sequel, it’s marginal; as a reboot, its abysmal. Only as a transitional piece does it work. A week or so back, when we were discussing Falstaff, a blog reader, Kevin Landis, commented that the reason why Falstaff takes over the play is so that we as an audience can understand why Hal has to give him the boot when he becomes Henry the Fifth. Kevin has a point… it IS a transitional piece, and there’s much to like about it in THEORY, but in practice, as a play, it just doesn’t cut it for me. It can’t stand alone (but then again, I guess neither can Empire Strikes Back)…
Regardless, without a dominant Hal, or a riproaring Hotspur, this play sits pretty low on the totem pole for me, in the bottom half of the histories and the bottom third of the plays overall.
A year ago, when I had finished the first tetralogy, I was really looking forward to the second tetralogy’s culmination with Henry the Fifth. But after this summer’s Henry the Fourth, Part One up in Ashland as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the past two months reading, I find my memory of Henry is somewhat less idealized. And to be honest, I’m not looking as forward to the the next play as I did a year ago. I see him differently now… and I’m not sure how I FEEL about him now.