Quality Over Quantity of ‘Henry’
By Ann Efimetz
– “An extraordinarily well done
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
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
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