Flaming arrows, explosive cannons, blood and gore and dozens of men fighting in full armour - it is a gamer's dream come true.

However, the scene is not a video game but one of Shakespeare's most gripping and action-packed plays: Henry V.

The play is the latest piece of theatre to be performed at the popular Pop-up Globe Theatre in Auckland.

A full replica of the second Globe Theatre in Bankside, London, the temporary theatre has already wowed Kiwi audiences over the last year and seen up to 20,000 school children getting a taste of Shakespeare in the unique setting.


UK-trained doctor of Shakespeare, Dr Miles Gregory, said the new production was set to bring huge excitement to more Kiwi audiences this year. Opening night was held this week and Henry V will show through to May.

Gregory said the play heavily involved the audience, with characters including them in scenes.

In one scene, the audience is egged on to battle.

"I've never seen an audience reaction like we had - it was like a riot. There was chanting and huge roars of applause and shouting for the battle scenes. It was very moving and quite incredible.

"When you've got a guy in full armour, in front of you, covered in blood and mud encouraging you to join him in the charge as he tries to defeat the French army, it's pretty compelling stuff."

Many of the costumes - including armoury worn by the knights - have been painstakingly made especially to fit each actor.

Cannons are fired and there are flaming arrows as well as a lot of blood.

"Up to 50 actors in full armour fight each other on stage with incredible drumming and live music. This is not boring school Shakespeare. This is the original immersive theatre," Gregory said.

"And when you see these plays performed in that theatre the way our actors perform it, you understand why Shakespeare's reputation is what it is."

Henry V is the ultimate Shakespeare action movie. It's a play that has very famous speeches in. And indeed it's inspired various video games characters.

"So it is a play that people are surprised about because it feels very familiar when you see it."

Among the cast is well-respected New Zealand actor Rawiri Paratene, who plays the role of King Henry's uncle, Exeter, and is known for a number of roles including as Koro in Whale Rider.

"He's a fine and extremely experienced classical actor. He also brings his vast amount of emotions to the role."

Gregory said the Pop-up Globe team hoped to get even more people out to this season's production and particularly young people and those who had never seen Shakespeare.

**Henry V is showing at the Pop-up Globe, in Ellerslie, until May 14. For tickets visit: www.popupglobe.co.nz