Theater Evaluation: "Henry V" at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Pageant

When settling in to look at considered one of Shakespeare’s historical past performs, expectations run towards battles, murders, and weighty ruminations. What you won’t count on—humor. “Henry V,” considered one of this season’s choices at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Pageant in Garrison, manages to do each fairly nicely. Think about, if you’ll, French cavalry storming the battlefield from the hill outfitted in bike helmets and soccer pads, pawing the sandy area on their imaginary steeds, and you start to understand what Creative Director Davis MacCullum and a forged of 16, led by the spectacular Emily Ota, have re-envisioned for this notable work.

Because the play opens, the younger king Henry, assured that he has a proper to say the throne of France, receives an envoy from the French Dauphin, who mocks Henry’s youthful exuberance with a present of tennis balls, prompting Henry to mount a navy expedition to France to grab the throne.

“Henry V” is a play which has been open to a lot interpretation over time. A paradox exists within the character of Henry, as he first urges mercy on the Battle of Harfleur after which rages and calls for blood at Agincourt. Is Henry divine sovereign, claiming his rightful because of the throne of France? Or is he a blood-thirsty conqueror, keen to commit atrocities that expressly go towards the legislation of arms? MacCullum, who directs the present, is clearly leaning towards the latter interpretation. The HVSF model doesn’t shrink away from the truth that the unique textual content has Henry commanding his troops to slit the throats of all their prisoners, and threaten the mayor of Harfleur with “Your bare infants spitted upon pikes.”

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T. Charles Erickson

Emily Ota stars in “Henry V” at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Pageant.

Ota, in her flip as Henry, brings fireplace to the efficiency. There is no such thing as a ambivalence right here. As she struts and kilos and whips her followers right into a frenzy, it’s clear that this can be a Henry that can do no matter essential to take the throne. This Henry is aware of what he desires; no milksop he.

If there’s a fault on this efficiency, it’s in Ota bringing an excessive amount of power to the portrayal. She shows outrage on the onset and leaves herself with little or no room to maneuver. Quiet deliberateness can usually be extra highly effective and horrifying than infuriated wrath. Certainly, it’s troublesome for Ota to maintain this fury, and she or he is noticeably hoarse by the third act. She shines within the quieter moments, similar to when Henry dons a disguise and creeps in regards to the camp talking to his topics the night time earlier than battle. As Ota displays on the burden of management, wistfully envious of the sleep that non-public males take pleasure in, we see the Henry who deserves to put on the crown.

“Henry V” as staged by HVSF doesn’t merely convey the fireplace and brimstone. There may be a great deal of humor peppered all through. Specifically, Steven Michael Spencer, because the Dauphin, turns in a memorable efficiency that’s half “the Dude” from The Huge Lebowski, half yacht-rock chill. Lennon Xin Wen Hu because the sycophantic Orleans, and Carl Howell because the French Constable be part of Spencer in a pre-battle scene wherein dialogue of their armor, horses, and mistresses reduces the viewers to riotous cackling. Melissa Mahoney because the gum-cracking Hostess Shortly is a delight, and the sight of grown males prancing about on imaginary horses like so many kindergarten youngsters is a good second.

click on to enlarge Theater Review: "Henry V" at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival

T. Charles Erickson

Nance Williamson and Omar Shafiuzzaman in “Henry V” at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Pageant.

Performed with no set in any respect, save two chairs, the manufacturing depends on lighting, sound results, and choreography to nice impact. The battle at Agincourt is a stand-out piece of staging. An intimate, theater-in-the spherical association of 500 or so chairs ensures that everybody has a superb seat to view the motion. “Part 400” guarantees an interactive expertise, because the younger girl who discovered her purse and telephone “borrowed” by the Boy, as performed by Sean McNall, can attest.

Shakespeare, open-air underneath a tent, appears to me to be the proper option to benefit from the Bard’s work. With an exquisite vista overlooking the mountains, guests are inspired to return early and picnic, and a storage space is offered so that you can depart your picnic provisions whilst you view the present. The concession stand will present picnic fare, which will be ordered forward of time on the web site. The elevated concession choices will be ordered-ahead for intermission. Restroom lodging are within the type of clear and well-tended bathroom trailers. Parking is within the area, and the trail down is prolonged; nonetheless, golf cart service to and from the parking space is offered when you so want.

One key factor to bear in mind to make your theater expertise extra nice—it’s summer time, and you might be outdoor. Below the tent, it’s heat, and infrequently buggy. Bug spray, offered on the tent entrance, is very beneficial. The prospect to expertise Shakespeare, achieved nicely, by Hudson Valley Shakespeare Pageant, is nicely definitely worth the danger of some mosquito bites.

“Henry V” can be carried out by means of August 27, alternating with “Love’s Labor’s Misplaced,” so examine the web site for accessible dates. Reveals day by day, besides Tuesday, at 7:30pm. Hudson Valley Shakespeare Pageant is positioned at 2015 Route 9, in Garrison. The present’s run time is 2 hours and 45 minutes with a 10-minute intermission.