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Henry the Sixth, Part 1

a Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4954

SHOWING : September 10, 2016 - November 25, 2016

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

In the aftermath of Henry V’s death, the tension between England and France grows. Joan of Arc (written more as a witch and a seductress than as the noble heroine we know) defeats the English army only to be captured and burned at the stake, the War of the Roses starts and the young and gentle Henry VI meets the She-Wolf of France, Margaret of Anjou.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Jeff Watkins
Beauford, Warder Tony Brown
Reigner, Lucy Nicholas Faircloth
Bedford, Mayor of London, French General Peter Hardy
Woodville, Fastolfe, Papal Legate Nathan Hesse
Gloucester Doug Kaye
Alencon, Porter, John Talbot Adam Daniel King
Burgundy, Gargrave, Warder Vinnie Mascola
Henry VI, Gunner’s Boy, Lawyer, French Mary Ruth Ralston
York, Master Gunner Maurice Ralston
Talbot, Mortimer, French Shepherd Drew Reeves
Charles, Somerset David Sterritt
Margaret Amee Vyas
Warwick, French Sentinel, Ambassador Clarke Weigle
Exeter, Salisbury Troy Willis
Suffolk, Soldier, Warder Trey York
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REVIEWS

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Wordy & Worthy
by playgoer
Friday, September 16, 2016
4.0
Shakespeare’s "Henry the Sixth, Part 1" covers the historical intersection of the War of the Roses and the battle against the French led by Joan of Arc, during the ascension of Henry VI to the throne as a boy. There’s a lot of content (three hours’ worth, including two intermissions), but also a lot of interest. Jeffrey Watkins has directed it with a sense of urgency and with a lot of activity, including splendid fight choreography by Drew Reeves.

The set includes the standard two-story raised stage used for all productions, but adds a square platform positioned diamond-like against the front edge of the stage, taking away a substantial portion of the audience. The upper balcony is also closed for this show, further restricting audience seating. This is understandable, given that Shakespeare’s history plays aren’t the draw the comedies and dramas are, but this one is certainly the equal of some of the lesser tragedies.

Banners on the walls and mirrored white and red rose medallions give the stage a bit of color and flair. Greg Hanthorn, Jr.’s lighting design adds more than usual to the visual appeal, being used to good effect to suggest Joan of Arc’s interplay with the divine. Anné Carole Butler’s costumes nicely delineate the French (blue backgrounds and white fleur-de-lys) from the English (maroon tunics), adding some very nice costumes for the Bishop of Winchester (J. Tony Brown, with a menacing air). This is a good-looking show.

Clarke Weigle’s sound design works well, featuring his trombone skills at various points. Vocally, projection is good across the board, but French accents often make rapid-fire dialogue difficult to take in. The French characters use French accents (some to comic effect), while the English characters use the actors’ own American accents. I found the inconsistency of accents jarring, with Mr. Weigle’s hard American r’s grating on my ear.

There are so many actors playing so many roles that it’s difficult to name standouts. I found Peter Hardy, Adam King, Mary Bridget McCarthy, Nicholas Faircloth, and Vinnie Mascola all convincing in each of their multiple roles, and loved Mary Ruth Ralston in her tiny role of son to the master gunner, while also respecting her performance as the young Henry VI. Kristin Storla is terrific as Joan of Arc (called Joan la Pucelle in the script), and the supporting players all do creditable work.

Mr. Watkins has directed an action-filled and personage-filled installment of the three-part Henry VI saga. It’s a remarkably effective presentation of history, sparked by Shakespeare’s dramatic sense and with hints of comedy. And two more installments to go! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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