“Henry V” at The American Theatre of Actors

  • Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City

Telling the classic story of Henry V’s clash with France and the bloody war that followed, director, Mary Lou Rosato brings us the story once again with an effective minimal set and a large and engaging cast.  Henry V was brought to life by Laris Macario, who balanced the commanding presence of the battlefield with the warm compassion towards his fellow men very well. At first it felt as though Macario was simply screaming through his lines but this improved as the play went on.

(Tom Kalnas)

(Tom Kalnas)

While the cast dealt with the language relatively well, there were still some moments throughout when there was visible struggle. While some cast members spoke the lines with ease others seemed to always be fighting against it. Macario seemed to work rather well with the words and by the end delivered his monologues with passion and fire. Another stand out of the production was Mark Guerette’s Fluellen who moved around the stage with an energy that brought life to any scene he was in.  The main group of King Henry’s soldiers worked well as an ensemble really giving us a sense of the history that the characters shared.

The space of the theatre was used effectively and really gave the sense of an expansive battle field. Using the isles and several levels of scaffolding provided a sense of depth that a story of this magnitude desperately needs. This also allowed for some variety in a set that was essentially bare. The blending of old and new in the costumes provided an “cut out of time” feel that made the play, while it is a history play,  feel connected to the modern day. The color contrasts of the two warring countries’ soldiers was also a nice touch.

While Shakespeare has never been accused of writing a short play, the energy of “Henry V” did seem to drag at times, making the play feel quite long. We would get a rousing speech from Macario’s Henry in one moment that would carry us through a scene and then in the next, we would slow to a halt as the scenes between moved with a slower energy. I would have liked to have seen a little more of that energy throughout, yet it was still very engaging to watch. The war itself was definitely the strongest point in the play with sword fights in all directions, a great final monologue from Henry, and a real sense of just what this war has cost everyone.

The play was most successful  in these moments of unity between the soldiers. Though, despite the pacing and struggles with the language, I did walk out of “Henry V” with a sense that I had been on a journey, and a large one at that.

 

“Henry V” was directed by Mary Lou Rosato

It was stage managed by Donnie Barbiea-Li and assistant stage managed by Charlotte Blacklock

It features lighting design by Amanda Levie, and Jared Kirby as Fight Director.

It Features: J.B Alexander, Alexander Chilton, Russ Cusick, Sean Demers, Julian Evens, Gordon Grey, Mark Guerette, Patrick Hamilton, Charlotte Harvey, Shaun James, Suzanne Kennedy, Laris Macario, Joseph Oppenheimer, Sylvain Panet-Raymond, Emma Elle Paterson, Joe Penczak, Roger Rathburn, Alan Sewell, Megan Jeanette Smith, Diego Andres Tapia, and Sam Tilles.

“Henry V” ran from February 21st-24 at the American Theatre of Actors (314 W 54th St, New York City).