THE Great Hall was brought to life by the Rabble Theatre and their epic production of Henry I.

The Reading-based company which aims to put women at the forefront of performances proved why they’re so highly esteemed.

The cast was immediately captivating with a melodic chant beginning the show, which gave me goosebumps. I was so entranced that I think my jaw was on the floor half the time, transfixed on everything from the classic fight scenes to the emotive monologues.

The energy of the actors did not falter as they sprinted down the cobbles of the Great Hall, tugged at ropes, drew swords and bounded down onto the stage, jumping from a higher level.

Hampshire Chronicle: Henry I at the Great HallHenry I at the Great Hall (Image: Alex Brenner)

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The story follows Henry I, William the Conqueror’s spare royal son, with the sins of his past haunting him once he becomes King.

Co-founder of Rabble Theatre, Toby Davies as Henry I, heroically leads a core cast of seven others who fluidly switch between different roles.

Hampshire Chronicle: Toby Davies as Henry IToby Davies as Henry I (Image: Alex Brenner)

Gabriella Sheppard as William Rufus, who first takes the throne from William the Conqueror after he dies, brought relief to the hard-hitting play as she weaved humour throughout the scenes with her animated facial expressions and oversized sleeves.

Praise should also go to the production teams who masterfully used lights and smoke to seamlessly change the atmosphere and even recreate fire.

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Getting to watch such a historically accurate recreation in the setting of Winchester’s Great Hall in the castle where Henry I spent much of his time was an exceptional experience that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Congratulations to writer Beth Flintoff, director Hal Chambers and of course the talented actors on putting together this work of art.

My only advice would be to wear something warm because as authentic as the Great Hall is it does lack some heating.

Henry I is on in Winchester until Saturday, July 15 before it starts its set in Covent Garden from July 20 to 22. Running time is approximately two hours and 45 minutes (including an interval). For tickets go to

Click through the gallery at the top of the page for more production photos taken by Alex Brenner.