While King Henry IV rightly laments that his heir, the young Prince Hal, has not distinguished himself in battle, Hal is up to no good at the Boar's Head Tavern with his rotund cohort, Falstaff. With a rebellion rising against the throne at home, Hal lives it up in the ale houses of London, associating with petty schemers and masterminding practical jokes instead of military strategies. When his father sends a messenger to fetch his delinquent son, will Hal rally to the call?
Written prior to 1596, this much-loved play is referred to in multiple memoirs and documents of the day and in subsequent decades, including Samuel Pepys's diary, attesting to its impact and popularity. Blending action that takes place at court with scenes of city life, Henry IV Part 1 marks a turning-point in Shakespeare's oeuvre, as action unfolds simultaneously in diverse locations, lending texture and variety to the drama, and involving characters drawn not only from the ranks of court, but from London's seedier byways. The sway of chaos and order, the perennial theme of Shakespeare's histories, is present here in the juxtaposition of the political realm with the Epicurean.
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