Play Review: “Henry V” at 2008 Hawai’i Shakespeare Festival

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”

Dates: Ongoing August 15, August 16 and August 1
Tickets: $18.00 General Admission, $14.00 for Sunday Matinee
Venue: Arts @ Mark’s Garage
Watched: Thursday, August 14, 2008

In it’s 7th year, the Hawai’i Shakespeare Festival presents the works of the world’s most famous playwright for the Hawai’i community. “Henry V” is the 2nd of 3 plays being presented this season.

Not being very familiar with this particular work (as it’s not something we covered in school) I had the pleasure of going into this play with no real expectations and I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw unfold before my eyes in this 2.5 hour outing.

Play Synopsis (taken from festival web site):

To fulfill the promise of his transformation from idle youth to new-crowned king, Henry launches a war to reclaim France for England. Featuring some of Shakespeare’s most stirring speeches and culminating in the famous battle of Agincourt where the French outnumbered the English five to one.

If you want to know more about this play read the ever excellent Wikipedia entry on it.

Thoughts:

I was most impressed with the mood Director Tony Pisculli and the cast were able to create for the play. An all-female cast (an HSF tradition) performed the entire play to great effect. Being sit in a war period the costuming combined an ultra-cool modern/medieval look as the girl’s were dressed in combinations of modern BDU’s with Medieval era chain-mail and jackets which was just awesome!

Damned Spot Drums provided the “mood music” for the play with their ultra-cool percussive sound which only served to add to the militant mood of the play.

The entire cast turned in excellent performances but standing out in my mind in particular were the following. Elizabeth Wolfe’s lead portrayal of King Henry V was excellent as she very much carried the confident air of both Monarch and military leader. In the lead role Wolfe’s gets to deliver some very stirring dialogue, in particular her rouse the troops “Eve of Day of Saint Crispian’s” speech. The gorgeous Erin SuJan Kim moved the show along in fine fashion as the narrating Chorus. Shoshanna Douglas’ portrayal of Boy was also very moving and well-played.

The stage combat scenes were well done, in particular the climatic battle where the English triumphed against the French army. The choreography and lighting in that particular scene was very dramatic and awe-inspiring.

The Venue:

If you’ve never been to Mark’s Garage before it’s actually a very small “intimate” venue. As such you will be right up front in on all the action which only adds to the atmosphere of the show 🙂

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed HSF’s “Henry V” and definitely recommend it to any theater lover out there or for those who ever wanted to see one of the Bard’s works on stage

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