THIS is a massive undertaking in an unusual theatrical venue – a disused medieval church.

York Shakespeare Project not only tackles one of Shakespeare’s most complex plays (two plays, if we’re being strictly accurate), but opts to stage it in the Church of St Martin-cum-Gregory, in Micklegate.

Tom Cooper’s ambitious production comes halfway through the project’s 20-year mission to present every known play by Shakespeare, roughly in the order in which they were probably written.

The two parts of Henry IV combine the epic and the intimate in a continuous story centred on the king and his problem son Prince Hal.

The church makes a natural setting for both domestic scenes and bigger battle scenes, although the acoustics can be a little troublesome at times.

Generally, the verse is spoken loud and clear, although a little more pace, or even editing of the text, is needed to bring the production below its excessive three-and-a-quarter hours running time.

Costumes are plucked from various periods, a device that works very well and help Christopher Laishley’s intelligently-played Prince Hal progress from modern princeabout- town to battle-scarred fighter.

He has to face up to Toby Gordon’s hot-headed Hotspur, a cocksure man in black whose physical approach contrasts with Hal’s more sensitive nature.

Maurice Crichton’s King Henry is rightly concerned by his son’s social life, not least his association with heavydrinking, badly-behaved Falstaff (Robin Sanger as a fat man behaving badly).

■ Henry IV Part Two opens tonight, and then plays tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, then August 13, 14 and 15 at 7.15pm.

Henry IV Part One is on Saturday and Sunday, then August 14 and 15 at 2.15pm, and August 12 at 7.30pm.

Tickets from York Theatre Royal on 01904-623568 and online