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King John

a Historical Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 2505

SHOWING : November 03, 2007 - December 02, 2007

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

We are pleased to present a ‘new’ play by William Shakespeare. King John is a story of a country questioning how its leaders are chosen. It is a story of a country at the end of a period of prosperity and strong leadership facing an uncertain future with an uncertain leader. It is a story of murder, betrayal, and religious intolerance at the highest levels of government. It is a story that questions the reason for and the price of war. In other words, it is a story for all times.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Drew Reeves
Candinal Pandulph, Legate to the Pope Tony Brown
Constance/Messenger Laura Cole
Chattillion of France/French Herald Nicholas Faircloth
Executioner/Meloon, a lord of France Nicholas Faircloth
Robert Faulconbridge/English Herald Matt Felten
Prince Henry Matt Felten
Lewis, the Daulphin Paul Hester
Phillip Faulconbridge Andrew Houchins
Earle of Pembroke Joshua Lee Jones
Arthur Bryan Lee
Lady Blanche Kati Grace Morton
Earle of Salisbury Daniel Parvis
Phillip, King of France Maurice Ralston
US Meloon Derek Randall
US French Chattillion/Herald/Executioner Mark W. Schroeder
Eleanor/Lady Faulconbridge Kathy Simmons
Citizen/Hubert Jeff Watkins
Lymoges/Executioner/French Messenger Dave Weber
Earle of Essex/Lord Bigot Clarke Weigle
King John Troy Willis
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REVIEWS

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An opportunity about to be missed
by speruoc
Friday, November 30, 2007
0.0
I did write a longer review of this play this morning at 5 am and the website lost it. Probably just as well. I went into a long rant about how the professional critics in town seem to be missing a few - things.

But, when it comes down to it, the one important thing they seem to be missing is what a special event King John has been. No, contrary to rumor, it is not a bad play. It is, in fact, rather more contemporary than many of the history plays, for the political maneuvering that controlled King John's time is in many ways still used today. If you boil the play down to the basics, this is corporate England. People get damaged in the power plays. You fight for power, then get creamed and someone else takes your place, someone young and not quite as ready as they should be. You fight to survive, and you die. Those are the rules of the game. It's a game King John both lost and won. This play makes it an interesting game.

Andrew Houchins plays the bastard Philip Faulconbridge, a fictional son of Richard Lionheart, who is a more active prototype of the Chorus of Henry V. He is the best of Choruses: a fool who brings home both the comedy and tragedy of the action. Some complain that the character is too talkative: hello, please, that is what choruses are supposed to do. Houchins is energetic, with biting humor and a full bodied (and voiced) pathos when it is called for.

Troy Willis plays a memorably human King John, wanting power but never quite enough of a king to have his own, living in the shadow of his dead brothers and his amazing mother Eleanor of Aquitaine (Kathy Simmons). One is almost glad that his father Henry II is never mentioned, for the character might be crushed by the weight of greater reputations. Troy gives John power by making him fully dimensional. The speech in which King John tells Hubert (Jeff Watkins) to kill his nephew Prince Arthur, hesitant, soft, frightened in his own intent, is rich in its own wish to not go through with the deed. When he gets his intention out, the mixture of relief and fear is carefully nuanced.

As for Hubert: this is one of Jeff Watkins' most emotionally charged roles, and he does it well. Caught between his orders and his love for the boy he is commanded to kill, he goes with his conscience, only to be pushed to the edge as events take one dreadful turn after another. It's an excellent performance, a role well suited to the man.

Laura Cole as Constance manages to keep her character intelligent and driven when other actresses resort to a more hysterical approach. She holds her own in a catfight with Eleanor. She never goes quite mad until everything is lost. It keeps the character interesting. I think much more can be done with Constance - it is one of Shakespeare's great overlooked roles for women. Laura has the ability - I just wish she would reach farther. I would like to see how the character grows if she does it again in a future production.

It's a great show with a strong cast - so why has this southeastern premiere been overlooked? I think pre-conceived notions about both the king and the play (which was actually very popular in the 17th and 19th centuries)combined with ASC's choice to continue to market the rarely done plays as "new plays by William Shakespeare" - a concept that outgrew itself quickly - have not helped. Once seen, the notions disappear. It has generated a good deal of discussion over the past few weeks. People leave the performance excited, and keep coming back to see it again.

I have told director Drew Reeves that I hope that King John becomes a signature piece for the ASC. It deserves to be done again, and it deserves to be seen again and again. If you have not taken a chance on it yet, give it a chance this weekend. You won't be disappointed.

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WAR, POLITICS, RELIGION: Powerful Reflection on Contemporary Themes
by AFrank
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
5.0
I went to see it this past weekend, mostly because I didn't think I'd ever get the chance to see this play live, but came away MARVELLING at its power.

Set in the time of the Crusades, this play is a brutally honest look at war, politics, and religion. Regardless of your political affiliation, you will be moved by the depth of Constance's grieving motherhood, played brilliantly by Laura Cole in Act 3.

You will see heads of state break their words...to bring peace!...and then be forced back into war by a self-interested church.

You will see the church's representative, played disdainfully by Tony Brown, seem the very incarnation of the power of evil (look for his dramatically quiet exit in the middle of Act 3), but then be unable to stop the war he ignited.

You will see a newlywed - with ties to both sides in this war - crying out for peace.

You will see men of small intellect make heroically moral choices.

You will weep with King John at his mother's death and marvel at the innocence of Arthur's youth.

As in many of Shakespeare's plays, it is the outsider - the illegitimate bastard - who expresses the most scathing evaluations of the true nature of war, politics and religion. And, as in all plays at the Tavern, there are moments of superb humor to cushion these thought-inducing themes as well as delicious food and adult beverages. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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