BARD in the Botanics (BiB) – the long-running mini-festival of Shakespeare and other classic plays that is staged in Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens every summer – is a thing of wonder.

Underfunded and operating on a shoestring, director Gordon Barr’s company never ceases to impress in its combination of dedication, courage and skill.

Those qualities are very much to the fore in BiB’s new production of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, which plays in the glorious Kibble Palace glasshouse.

At the very outset of the run, the excellent actor Finlay McLean (who was set to play the titular king) had to withdraw due to ill health (we wish him a full and speedy recovery).

However, as the cliché has it, the show must go on, and so it does, with the fine Stephen Clyde stepping into the role of the embattled monarch Henry Bolingbroke.

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Playing on Tuesday evening with book in hand, the actor gave a brave and accomplished performance which will only get better as he familiarises himself with his character.

This tremendous, little festival (in which Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is currently playing on the outdoor stage, when the weather permits) is renowned for its innovations with, and careful truncating of, Shakespeare’s dramas. In adapting the two Henry IV plays into one, director Barr has fashioned an all-male piece, with just six characters, played by four actors.

As King Henry faces both an insurrection, led by Henry Percy (aka Hotspur), and the impatient ambition of his son, Prince Henry (aka Hal), one is struck by the timelessness of the play.

The National: Promotion posterPromotion poster (Image: BardintheBotanics)

Hotspur’s military uprising is decidedly Prigozhinite (albeit that it is, ultimately, more bloody than the aborted Russian rebellion), while Hal’s coveting of his father’s crown would not be out of place in the recent hit TV series Succession.

The typically simple set – which has the king’s throne at one end and the counter of a pub (complete with a tap for a famous Scottish ale) at the other – reflects two of the major players in the drama (namely, regal power and alcohol).

The cast is universally superb

Johnny Panchaud has more costume changes than a Kylie Minogue concert as he switches between the three roles of Lord Westmoreland (chief courtier to the king), the mutinous Hotspur and Prince Hal’s boyhood friend Ned Poins.

The actor plays all three roles with equal passion and aplomb (including, in a neat reference to the Wars of the Roses, a Yorkshire-accented Hotspur).

Sam Stopford’s Hal achieves a perfect balance between adolescent japery and sinister duplicity. However, most of the production’s humour emanates from Alan Steele’s hilarious playing of the ageing reprobate Sir John Falstaff.

Whether in his self-aggrandising falsehoods or his colossal drinking, Steele’s blue-blooded miscreant is fabulously comic. Yet, he is also touching in his regretful yearning for his enthusiastically misspent youth.

From up-to-the-moment political and cultural parallels, to the evergreen themes of ambition and over-indulgence, this is another memorably vital, cleverly abridged Shakespeare from Bard in the Botanics.

Until July 8: