Monday, June 1, 2009

Farewell to Henry

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Having seen it coming some 4 years ago, I would’ve thought I would’ve been prepared to see the final part of Shakespeare’s Henriad. And having seen the last part yesterday, I guess I still want more. I guess I wasn’t ready for it to be over.

Quasi Theatre has picked-up Henry V--the fourth and final part of an annual sequential series of productions of the play. And I’m sure it’s not the case, but I couldn’t help but get the feeling that Shakespeare was kind of rushing to tie up all the loose ends presented in the previous three parts of the series and slap on something of a happy ending, even though the struggle between France and England was going to continue for quite some time after the events covered in the play . . . and it felt a bit lopsided, with scenes that seemed a bit out of synch with each other . . . the flow of action being a bit out of touch . . . but on the whole quite entertaining.

The cast felt as uneven and textured as the script, which was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. And there’s so much that I didn’t get to mention in the review that appears in this week’s Shepherd—Tom Reed’s performance as Pistol was great—a 15th century Shakespearian street punk paired off with a younger Tim Linn in the role of Nym—who seems to have bulked-up quite a bit since last I saw him, positively buff carrying around a broadsword nearly as big as he is. And his line delivery as Nym—he’s starting to sound like a young Jonathan Smoots. Lenny Banovez plays the title role here. He’s impressive with the standard heroic fare, but he’s really particularly interesting in the little romantic bit at the end. Recent Marquette grad Bonnie Auguston is charming as the French noble he’s falling for. Auguston also plays the boy—which makes for an interesting contrast. She’s playing two different characters of two different sexes who are of two different nationalities, both of whom speak French at different levels. It’s also interesting seeing her in a production also featuring talented recent UWM grad Michael Cotey—well-poised here as Dauphin. A cast that also included a gracefully precise Libby Amato, Bryce Lord, James Fletcher . . . and still there were the pangs of something missing. It was either Falstaff or Milwaukee Shakespeare . . .  hard to tell which . . .

Quasi Theatre’s production of Henry V runs through June 7th at Marquette University’s Helfaer Theatre.

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