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Henry IV, Part 1

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Gregg W. Brevoort

Virginia Shakespeare Festival
Williamsburg, VA


Quality Over Quantity of ‘Henry’
By Ann Efimetz

– “An extraordinarily well done production”

The first thing I am going to say about the Virginia Shakespeare Festival’s production of Henry IV, Part 1 is that I enjoyed it. It is an extraordinarily well done production and is visually wonderful. Jennifer Anderson’s costuming is really impressive.

The language is resplendent, and the action is compelling.

I enjoyed listening to the political machinations of the characters, watching them create the blueprint that would lead to the battle in the final scenes. But the first portion of the play is extremely wordy. There’s not much in way of real action until after the intermission.

That’s when the play gains a lot of intensity. The Battle of Shrewsbury was well-directed by Gregg W. Brevoort, with Fabio Pires and Arthur Rowan serving as fight captains.

Overall, Brevoort did a good job with this play. The language is so demanding, there isn’t a whole lot of “oomph” until the battle.

There are some standout performances that bring depth and excitement to the production. There are many more who did a great job than I have room to list.

The plot involves the threat to King Henry’s kingdom by insurgents angry about his politics. Most of the play lays out plans on how to usurp him.

Matt Bolte plays Henry, Prince of Wales (Hal), with boyishness that is tempered by his responsibility to his father and country.

Bolte and Larry Miller, who plays the inimitable Sir John Falstaff, found a nice niche, playing off each other very well. Miller, who played the role of Falstaff onstage here in the 1995 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor reprised the role.

I thought Miller was best after intermission, as he tried to rally his ragamuffin army and save his own skin during the skirmish.

John Page played Hotspur, one of the instigators behind the insurrection against King Henry IV, played by Joseph Delliner. William Sanders, who turned in a brilliant performance in 2002 as King Lear, played two roles, Westmoreland and Owen Glendower.

Another highlight was the lovely vocal performance of Vicki Robbins who played Lady Mortimer.

There is some wonderful emotion, humor and the famous line, “Discretion is the better part of valor,” spoken by Falstaff in this play.

You decide whether you want to take it on.