The first play we saw at the Stratford Festival was Henry IV, Part I at the Tom Patterson Theatre. While this theatre is not plush, there was not a bad seat in the house and we were rewarded for our early ticket purchase with seats close enough to feel the action. I felt as if I could touch the actors, but it was an allusion. The set was almost non-existent with only a few metal tables with rough edged vertical sections of willow as tops with similar benches and chairs. The costuming was inspired - combining medieval layering with modern design, natural fibers, leathers, and furs with modern amenities and chain-mail - yet not distracting.
Many times in Shakespearean productions, actors(professionals included) tend to overact. With only one exception, there was no haughty inflected dialect. Shakespeare's bawdy jokes were not over emphasized, yet they were not diluted. No one on stage was waiting for a laugh, an applause, or other reaction. The play was honest; spectacular without pretension; and funny without raunchiness.
Henry IV (both parts) are long and complicated. My children tolerated the 8 to 11:30 p.m. production remarkably well and left the theatre sword fighting with the programs. I toyed with reading this complex play to the children before we left, but decided against it. I told the short-form story to them before the play began. They got confused, but seemed to enjoy Falstaff's antics and the sword fighting. They understood, but didn't love it the way I did.