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“Henry V” | Review by Susie Potter

“HENRY V” OFFERS A STRONG YOUNG CAST AND NOT MUCH ELSE

Henry V Bare Theatre Rogue Company at Common Ground theatreMastering 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.

OTHER LINKS:

E-text of Play: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/2253 (Project Gutenberg).


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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Reviews

6 Responses

  1. It is with scathing eyes that I read the review of one so young. What is her background? Has she read and studied the play? Has she looked for other performances to attend or read about? Is she old enough to understand the intricate nature of A Shakespeare war play?

    It is my understanding that Robert’s reviews belong to Robert, not just anyone he decided to take under his wing at any given moment. While I will take whatever criticism comes from him I cannot- nay will not take it from so young a fledgling who clearly knows not of the play or why Rogue exists.

  2. I prefer to stay anonymous since I know many of the people in the show and the writer herself. I feel now days everybody calls themselves a critic. This person specifically has written various reviews on concerts. If you go and read these, many have no clear thought and are poorly edited.

    Now, on to this review. I completely agree with the response by Carmen. Robert has built a respectable reputation. He goes to shows with an unbiased and informed eye. He is one that I trust to give a fair review and I look forward to what he has to say. As for Ms. Potter, I would not consider her unbiased and informed. Considering she gave up her interest in theatre in college and could not keep her commitments to theatre when she actually was interested, I can’t take her seriously. There are far better people in this wonderful, thriving art community who can write a proper review for this strong company.

  3. Well, I’m not familiar with this reviewer, or any other for that matter, so I cannot comment on her background or credentials, but I can say that, as someone who was in the audience, I think her review was spot-on. Not to bash anyone, but I felt this production was a mess. It felt as if we were watching a rehearsal, not the actual show. I saw at least two people who actually fell asleep. It was difficult to follow, and just confusing overall. I don’t know if Ms. Potter has seen the show before, but I have, and it should have been better, even considering the age of the cast. I thought the cast showed some potential, but they needed to be in another show to prove it, as this one was an insult to the cast and the audience. Whether Ms. Potter is suited to review theatre is not for me to decide, but she was absolutely right, so who is to say she is not?

  4. I agree with Craig and with the reviewer. I thought this show was awful.The unprofessional attitudes of the director and obvious cast members who have posted here should give everyone a fair idea of just how unprofessional the show itself was. I doubt Rogue will be around for long, especially if the director can’t take a little criticism. I mean…she’s a youth theater director bashing someone for being young? How does that make sense?

  5. Someone doesn’t like your show and so you attack them personally. We say she’s too young, and that we prefer the alternative – a kind man who comes to shows, but more than often falls asleep during them.

  6. I met Susie after the “Death and the Maiden” show, and she was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I asked her about this Henry V fiasco, and she wouldn’t even comment or say anything negative about the director or her subsequent comments. She is a true professional, and I think, like all other reviewers, she is entitled to her opinion.