YORK company Bronzehead Theatre turn an upstairs room at the Eagle & Child into the Boar's Head Tavern for a pub wake for the dead King Henry IV.

It is a party that stretches from 7.30pm to 10.15pm, and by the end you will be seeing things, as if through beer glasses: the self-same death of King Henry IV, now lying in state on a pub bench, his crown of beermats removed, as the night ends back where it began: singing pub songs defiantly in the face of the royal grim reaper.

Tom Straszewski's cast of five experienced hands performs Parts 1 and 2 of Shakespeare’s history play in a condensed performance, divided into three acts, Rebels All, The March To War and Making Peace, that make demands of their vocal, physical theatre, singing and musical skills, as well as their elan at interacting with a close-up audience.

Two intervals provide not only Mick Liversidge's bibulous Falstaff with the chance to re-fuel, should you too wish for Henry IV Pints 1, 2 and 3, although Falstaff reaches for more inventive methods with a little bottle (not his favourite sack, by the way) secreted away in a takeaway coffee cup.

This is typical of the more informal side of Straszewski's show, where humour has a big part to play, be it in the boisterous performance of Nicola O'Keefe's Doll Tearsheet in her laddered fishnet stockings and Dr Martens; Liversidge's bawdy carrot song or Patricia Jones's Shallow picking out audience members for Falstaff's waspish-tongued recruitment drive.

Leading man Mark Burghagen's Prince Hall/Hotspur and the multi-role-playing Kate-Lois Elliott take on the more grave roles in what Straszewski calls a bittersweet play about growing up and growing old as a son grieves for his father.

"It’s also about bad role models, drinking, and trying and failing to live up to expectations," he says. "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.”

And the good news is: you won't be only here for the beer.

Henry IV: A Pub Wake, Bronzehead Theatre, York International Shakespeare Festival, upstairs at Eagle & Child, High Petergate, York, until Thursday, 7.30pm, and on tour until June 1. York box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk