Thursday, July 31, 2014

Henry IV (Parts One and Two)
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Now through August 10
     The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is “such stuff as dreams are made on.”
     Sunday this reviewer was in attendance at the performances of both “Henry IV” Part One and “Henry IV” Part Two. What an astonishing day of Great Theatre! "Henry IV" Part One has long been a personal favorite. To be able to see both parts of this formidable history play done so well is a rare treat.
     As directed by Carolyn Howarth, the production of Part One of "Henry IV" has so much to recommend it that you may wish to go twice. It’s rare to see all of these great roles inhabited by such wonderful actors.
 L      L-R: Michael Winters and Benjamin Bonenfant 

Geoffrey Kent turns in an astonishing performance in the role of the firebrand Hotspur. (This is one of Shakespeare’s most indelible characters and it’s a tragedy that what happens historically to him disallows his return in Part Two.)
      It's no surprise that Sam Gregory’s portrayal of Henry IV is superb. After seeing his brilliant Atticus Finch in CSF’s great “To Kill a Mockingbird” and his brilliant Polonius in The Denver Center’s “Hamlet,” one simply expects the highest and best from his acting of every role he assumes.
     Benjamin Bonenfant is the perfect casting for Prince Hal. This actor’s bright ascendance into the firmament of the theatre is that of a star of the first magnitude. Bonenfant’s portrayal of young Hal’s trajectory through both plays is revelatory.
     Falstaff is given a solid reading by Michael Winters.
     Jenna Bainbridge sings exquisitely as Lady Mortimer.
     Vanessa Morosco’s (Ariel in this season’s “The Tempest”) Earl of Westmoreland is powerful!

     "Henry IV" Part Two is presented using “original practices.” This is an attempt to “recreate the staging and performance conditions of Elizabethan England.” With only a couple days of rehearsal the actors are given only their own lines and the line that cues them. There is also an onstage prompter as well as four above stage Renaissance musicians.  The lights are up full onstage as well as having the house lights on. So the actors can see and interact with the audience in much the same way they did in the time of Shakespeare.
     In Henry IV (Part II) all the principals continue in their vein of excellence.  Tammy Meninghini does some formidable work as Mistress Quickly.  Geoff Kent returns in the role of a hilarious scenery-chewing codger. Awesome work!

    It is to be hoped that these two grand productions will be remounted so that a greater audience may attend.

For tickets go online to coloradoshakes.orgMarlowe's Musings

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