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This study examines the profound changes that twentieth-century performance has wrought on Shakespeare's complex drama of war and politics. What was accepted at the turn of the century as a patriotic celebration of a national hero has emerged in the modern theatre as a dark and troubling analysis of the causes and costs of war. The book details the theatrical innovations and political insights that have turned one of Shakespeare's most traditional-bound plays into one of his most popular and provocative. Henry V gives details analyses of several important modern productions. Beginning with a consideration of the play's political significance in Elizabethan London, the book goes on the reveal its subsequent reinvention, both as patriotic pageant and anti-war manifesto. Individual chapters consider important productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and other British and North American companies, as well as the landmark film versions. A compelling account of the theatrical revolution that has transformed one of Shakespeare's most challenging plays.
James N. Loehlin is Associate Professor of English at University of Texas, Austin