Henry V

It has been a season of endings: both for BAM’s King and Country cycle of Shakespeare’s King plays, as well as for the folding of the print magazine I designed for years. (Print is dead. Long live print!) Focusing on the job situation is the reason for this extremely late review of Henry V, and for that I apologize, but it is fun to experience the evening once more as I reflect on the four plays in this ambitious project. We had one cast — the Royal Shakespeare Company; one throne; one crown; three kings — Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V; and four plays, spanning the years between 1398 and 1415. Henry V — which I attended on April 28 — ended with England’s victory at the Battle of Agincourt, and England’s uniting with France through the marriage of Henry and Katherine. The last moments of the play, when Alex Hassell portrayed Henry as a nervous young suitor — as well as when he portrayed rowdy Prince Hal in the previous two plays– were my favorite moments of his acting. I found him much harder to believe as a serious king leading his troops into battle. (His kingly moments just seemed a bit tentative.) That said, I was lucky enough to sit next to a couple who had seen many productions of all of the king plays over the years and they said these plays were top notch. Since they were my first, I was happy to hear that. Oliver Ford Davies was wonderful in the role of a one man chorus, taking us through the events like a favorite grandfather narrating a long ago story. Jennifer Kirby as the French princess, Katherine, was a delight. As for my favorite play in the series, it was Richard II, mainly because of the poignant story and my fascination with early medieval kings. This was a difficult choice, mind you. All of the plays were so different and terrific and the constancy of the ever present throne and crown created the perfect continuity to the clever staging. I saw the plays in chronological order, and it was thrilling to come back every week or so and literally feel like I was living the passage of time. And speaking of time, I am excited to see what my next career path will be. I am open to many different options. I am equally excited to learn what BAM has in store for audiences this coming fall. Thank you to all involved for a fantastic year of programming!

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