“HENRY V” OFFERS A STRONG YOUNG CAST AND NOT MUCH ELSE
Mastering the works of William Shakespeare is a difficult undertaking for even the most seasoned of actors. This statement sums up why Raleigh, NC-based Bare Theatre’s Rogue Company presentation of HENRY V is less than inspired. The show, which opened at Durham’s Common Ground Theatre on Thursday, July 22nd, and continued its run through Sunday, July 25th, had some nice moments; but overall, it fell flat. Although the idea of “Bare Theatre” — with little if any scenery — is a wonderful concept, it’s incredibly difficult to pull off something as dry as a Shakespearean history without a proper set. The bare-bones staging that worked in Shakespeare’s day simply doesn’t cut it in the modern world. Adding this to the inexperience of youth performers makes for a show that is somewhat of a slog to sit through.
On a positive note, however, there were many talented, young performers in this piece who managed to stand out. Tara Pozo’s too brief portrayals of Isabel and Pistol were memorable and humorous, whereas Garrett Stein-Seroussi gave an absolutely charming performance in the small role of Nym. This young man has a face that is meant for the stage.
Joey Shea’s portrayal of Henry was bumbling and awkward at times, but Shea shows an impressive grasp of the material for such a young performer. He nailed Henry V’s famous St. Crispin’s Day speech surprisingly well and was also completely lovable during his scenes with Princess Katherine. Katherine, played by Kelsey Heathcoat, was undoubtedly the most believable character in the show. Heathcoat’s French accent, facial expressions, and body language were so spot-on that one eagerly awaits her next moment on the stage.
The careful use of percussion by G. Todd Buker (PROXY) as a musical backdrop to the show worked well here, especially when combined with the “chorus” scenes. These scenes of flowing, dance-like movements were incredibly modern, interesting to watch, and well-choreographed. In fact, they were, at times, the only thing that kept the viewer watching. They served to break up the monotony of the show, and are almost eerie in their poignancy.
In this presentation of HENRY V, it was easy to miss out on key scenes, thanks to mumbling actors and haphazard staging. The battle scenes, especially, were impossibly messy and looked almost comical. In short, it just didn’t look like much effort was put into this production, except on the part of these young performers. They definitely deserve a lot of credit for giving a flawed and poorly executed show their best effort and trying earnestly to make it work.
- SHOW: http://www.baretheatre.org/next.html.
- PRESENTER: http://www.baretheatre.org/.
- VENUE: http://www.cgtheatre.com/.
E-text of Play: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/2253 (Project Gutenberg).