YORK company Bronzehead Theatre invite you to raise a pint to Henry IV at a pub wake at the Eagle & Child, High Petergate, from Sunday to Thursday, as part of the 2nd York International Shakespeare Festival.

Tom Straszewski's cast will perform Parts 1 and 2 of Shakespeare’s history play in a condensed performance in pubs across Yorkshire and beyond, starting in York; followed by Ilkley Moor Vaults, May 19 and 20; Kirkstall Bridge Inn, May 23; Crowd Of Favours, Leeds, May 24 and 25; Helmsley Walled Gardens, May 26; Old Bell Tavern, Harrogate, May 29; So! Bar and Eats, Ripon, May 30; Scarborough Brewery, May 31, and the Wig & Mitre, Lincoln, June 1.

"Our take on the play brings the Boar’s Head Tavern to the forefront, in the midst of a raucous pub wake for the dead King Henry IV," says Tom. "Performing Shakespeare in pubs isn’t as unusual as it might seem; his company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, would perform in inn yards when on tour. We perform in places that match the play, so for this production we’ve found pubs that can become our own Boar’s Head Tavern. Luckily Yorkshire has an abundance of fantastic pubs.”

What can pub audiences expect? “It’s a bittersweet play about growing up and growing old," says Tom. "It’s about a son grieving for his father. It’s also about bad role models, drinking, and trying (and failing) to live up to expectations. There’s a bit of romance and a bit of singing. If you want to sing along, please do. If you get bored (we hope you don’t), you can go and grab another drink.”

All the same, it must be difficult to perform all seven hours of these two plays in a pub. “Well, it’s a condensed version, just two hours long," says Tom. "We’re focused on the parents and children, not the politics. One problem was finding actors for Falstaff and Henry, and Hotspur and Hal. Two father-figures, two sons.

"So we thought, 'why not have them played by the same actors?'. And we kept that up: everybody in the pub gets to play a few roles, trying to find out who they really are as the new king takes charge.”

York Press:

Mick Liversidge as Falstaff in Bronzehead Theatre's Henry IV. Picture: Michael J Oakes

Bronzehead regular Mick Liversidge will play both Falstaff and King Henry IV. "It’s a familiar story. One’s his real father and the other’s a good mate with yearnings of fatherhood," he says. "It’s a dilemma faced by many fathers who want their son to follow the ‘right’ path and face up to responsibilities, while keeping the fun and matey side of their relationship.”

Looking forward to a busy time on stage, Kate-Lois Elliott says: "To multi-role as Hotspur's wife Lady Percy, Pistol, Worcester, Warwick and Hal's pal Poins is amazing: the range of character and beautiful lines in Henry IV 1 & 2 are a real gift. The tavern scenes from Henry IV played out in an actual pub is a refreshing idea for any actor.”

Elliott, who has performed at the Globe Theatre, will be joined by I, Daniel Blake actress Patricia Jones as brassy landlady Mistress Quickly and Nicola O’Keeffe as barmaid Frances and lady of pleasure Doll Tearsheet.

Alongside them, Mark Burghagen welcomes the challenge of playing both Prince Hal and Hotspur. “Perhaps because I’m witnessing my own father’s health decline, I’m particularly interested in the ever-changing father/son relationship that is so central to the plays," he says.

"It’s a journey every child and parent experiences one way or other and the two Shakespeare plays capture this very prominent, yet often concealed, aspect of our lives vividly and beautifully.”

Given the need to take on both roles, how will Burghagen manage the duel between Hotspur and Hal? “Well, you’ll have to come and see,” he teases.

Bronzehead Theatre will stage Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 on a pub tour between May 14 and June 1. All performances will start at 7.30pm with a running time of two and a half hours, including intervals. Tickets for the York shows cost £12, concessions £10, from the York Theatre Royal box office, on 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or on the door. Tour tickets are available at £12 via bronzeheadtheatre.co.uk or on the door.

Did you know?

Bronzehead Theatre was founded in 2013 to produce site-sensitive theatre in York and further afield. Past performances include Old Haunts in York in 2013 and an international tour of Richard II in Yorkshire in 2015 and Germany in 2016. Upcoming productions will be A Lazy Tour O Two Idle Apprentices in August and a new adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula for Halloween 2017.