William – as in Shakespeare.
Shakespeare as in Henry V.
Henry V as in the Globe Theatre production that is currently on tour around the country.
Henry V as in Jamie Parker, the actor who plays him.
All right. Confession time. I’m cheating. I’d been eyeing up Mr Parker as this week’s Wednesday Hot Hero, but now, instead of admiring his brown eyes and his biceps, delightful as they are, I get to talk about his portrayal of Hal. It’s very fine indeed, and I’d recommend it if you like theatre, but the thing that struck me most about it was the balance in the performance between the warrior king and the fallible man.
Many actors, portraying Hal as the reformed wastrel, eager to prove himself on the battle field, concentrate on the military leader and only soften in the delightful late scene where he attempts to woo the French Princess – he with no French and she with no English. Jamie Parker’s prince was a soldier desperately trying to come to terms with his life, hiding his grief at the death of his former mentor, Falstaff, revealing his insecurities to the audience alone as he prepares for battle, rallying his soldiers with the power of his personality, while disguising his private doubts.
For me, it was romantic hero just as I like to write them, an action man, with a vulnerable soul. Woe betide anyone who sees that side of him … until the heroine comes along.
So, thank you Mr Parker. You’ve given me another set of images and emotions, especially emotions, which I can draw on when creating my next hero. I can see him now. He won’t have Hal’s crown, but he might have your conscience … and your tortured brown eyes.