Monday, November 1, 2010

Henry IV, Part Two

Ginna Hoben and James Keegan inHenry IV, Part 2. Photo by Michael Bailey.
My favorite of Shakespeare's plays are the histories. I am a big fan of the Henry IV plays and I've been looking forward to this for a year after the spectacular Henry IV, Part One with Luke Eddy as Prince Hal in last year's production. Honestly, that ranks in the top two or three shows I've seen at the Blackfriars. I love this run of plays so much I will be seeing Part Two two more times. Many of the actors reprise their roles from last year's production including Rene Thornton, Jr. in the very minor title role, Allison Glenzer as Mistress Quickly and the great James Keegan as the legendary Falstaff.

Benjamin Curns plays the Archbishop of York, Richard Scroop, and very nearly steals the show in the minor role of Pistol. Curns is an amazing performer and it's always a pleasure seeing him play any role. In my opinion, he is the most versatile performer at the ASC, playing any type of role convincingly and is always at the top of his game.

Last year, I singled out Chris Johnston as having a terrific summer/fall season and crowned him the "rising star" at the ASC. This year, I believe Alli Glenzer has done the same. Actually, she's had a terrific year period. She really stands out as Mistress Quickly (again), and coupled with her incredibly emotional turn in Othello and hilarious role of Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew, she's had a brilliant year. Hopefully she will be a mainstay on the Blackfriars stage for years to come. Like Curns, she is an extremely versatile performer, probably the most versatile of the female regulars at the ASC.

James Keegan is so great as Falstaff I can't imagine seeing anyone else play him. I've seen him do Falstaff in both Henry IVs and Merry Wives and he is simply excellent. I've never seen Keegan do anything less than five stars, but his Falstaff goes to the stratosphere. I'm going to really miss Falstaff.... Patrick Midgley takes over the role as Prince Hal/King Henry V and does a good job. The character is quite a bit different in Part Two than in Part One. There is much less comedy but much more drama.

Other standouts in this production are Daniel Kennedy as Master Robert Shallow and Northumberland, Chris Johnston as both Ned Poins and Cousin Silence (the costume is classic Johnston), Bob Jones as the always slighted Bardolph, Jeremiah Davis as the sober and austere John of Lancaster, Ginna Hoben as Doll Tearsheet, and John Harrell as Falstaff's foil the Lord Chief Justice.

I will probably delve more deeply into the play after seeing it twice more. Needless to say, I very much enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing it again. There are some terrific musical performances in this play and the pre-show entertainment between Jeremiah Davis and Bob Jones is classic.

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