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The Barbican - Autumn 2014, including Antony Sher in Henry IV Parts I and II

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AS WELL as an International Ibsen Season, the Barbican’s autumn highlights include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It).

Presented by the Barbican in association with the RSC and directed by Dmitry Krymov, it runs in the Barbican Theatre from November 12 to November 15, 2014.

Krymov defies theatrical convention to conceive spectacles of scale, invention and wonder. His glorious retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream focuses on the ‘rude mechanicals’, amateur actors attempting to stage the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe for an audience of restless dignitaries.

Feats of physicality abound as the troupe struggles with its depiction of the ill-fated lovers. An opera singer, towering puppets, ballerinas and a performing dog all feature in this ingeniously staged adaptation of Shakespeare.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is performed in Russian with English surtitles.

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Other highlights include Gregory Doran’s production of Henry IV Parts I and II, starring Antony Sher as the infamous comic knight Falstaff. Continuing the Barbican and the RSC’s collaboration, it runs from November 29, 2014 to January 24, 2015.

The cast also includes Jasper Britton (The Taming of the Shrew/The Tamer Tamed in 2003) as Henry IV, Alex Hassell (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cardenio, The City Madam in 2011) as Prince Hal, and Paola Dionisotti as Mistress Quickly.

PART I – With his crown under threat from enemies both foreign and domestic, Henry IV prepares for war. As his father gets ready to defend his crown, Prince Hal is languishing in the taverns and brothels of London, revelling in the company of his friend, the notorious Sir John Falstaff. With the onset of war, Hal must confront his responsibilities to family and throne.

PART II – King Henry’s health is failing but he is uncertain Hal is a worthy heir. Meanwhile, Falstaff is sent to the countryside to recruit fresh troops, where he gleefully indulges in the business of lining his own pockets. As the King’s health continues to worsen, Hal must choose between duty and loyalty to an old friend in Shakespeare’s heartbreaking conclusion to this pair of plays.

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And Mark O’Rowe brings his award-winning play Howie the Rookie to The Pit, where it runs from September 19 to September 29, 2014.

Described as an adrenaline-fuelled ride into Dublin’s underworld, Howie the Rookie is a tale of two halves, narrated first by the Howie, then picked up by the Rookie, unfolding within a landscape of feverish drinking, casual sex and visceral violence. Along the way, audiences meet unforgettable characters – from Ladyboy, the psychotic thug hellbent on avenging the deaths of his fighting fish, to monstrous Avalanche, clad in ski pants, looking for love from her bar stool.

Mark O’Rowe’s two-hander is transformed into a one-man show brimming with ferocious lyricism and coruscating wit. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor prowls, dances and dives to give a performance for which he was named Best Actor at the Irish Times Theatre Awards.

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The Barbican is also presenting an exhibition entitled Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age, which will be on dispaly in the Barbican Art Gallery from September 25, 2014 to January 11, 2015.