Cast shines in superb 'Henry V' 

Last Friday night, as many Arkansans were having trees flung into their homes by the strongest non-tornadic storm to blow through Central Arkansas in quite some time, I was sitting comfortably in a sold-out theater, watching one of the most compelling, thoughtful, well-acted, and, yes, hilarious, Shakespeare plays I have ever seen. The Rep's current take on "Henry V" is a spectacle to behold.

From the set design (brought to us by the inimitable Mike Nichols, who is celebrating his 30th year as The Rep's set designer) to the lighting, from the choreography to the sound-design, from the superlative acting right through to the final lines of the play, "Henry V" is a thing of beauty. Bob Hupp's direction is as fluid and subtle as would be expected of a man of his breadth and talent, and Avery Clark, who plays King Henry, delivers a performance commensurate with the great Shakespearean actors, bringing a realism and a contemporary slant to the character that would be identifiable to even the dullest among us. His Henry is a man of humility, honor, grace, and humor. The Rep's show overflows with perfectly-timed, expertly-crafted lines so funny that in the final act the audience was laughing too much, making it hard to hear some of the dialogue.

The Rep has outdone itself this time. As loyal fans of The Rep's many years of studious work, we have come to expect the best in stagecraft when we nestle into our seats, and as the lights dim, there is never a flutter of worry of the quality of the work we are about to see. This time, however, I noticed something more, something gleaming and bright flowing from the stage, illuminating the anachronistic language of a 400-year-old play. What I saw was acting on a level that surpassed all live performances I have yet seen in Shakespeare's plays, and yes, that surpassed the storied Kenneth Branagh film from 1989. I know that speaking ill of Branagh is blasphemy, yet I do not apologize. The actors in The Rep's "Henry V" utterly transformed the Bard's prose into a living and breathing work of glory. As I mentioned, Clark amazed, but he was not alone in that regard. The night was awash in transcendent performances.

My personal favorite was Peter Leake, who, as Lord Scrope brought a lump to my throat with his emotionally charged take on a doomed man, a rueful traitor, as he is judged by King Henry and then summarily executed. Something about Leake's face, his emotionality, tore right through the lines of dialogue and left an impression on me that lingered well into the final act. Nikki Coble effortlessly charmed as Katherine of Valois, and her (too few) scenes were a true high point. Jason Guy, as the Chorus, perfectly engendered the beauty of the text and lent an ease and familiarity to the role. Joe Menino, as Charles VI, was excellent as the contemplative French king contending stoically with the English rivalry, bringing a statesmanship that hung above his scenes like a coat of arms. 

I could go on and on, delineating the superb performances, one by one, but really, you should just go watch this play for yourself. You won't even mind missing any dramatic weather, should it return. I surely didn't mind. The drama on stage last Friday night was ample.

"Henry V" runs Sept. 5-23 Wednesday through Sunday at Arkansas Repertory Theater.



Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Aaron Sarlo

  • Well-rested development

    'Lady Dynamite' smashes the fourth wall.
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • Guest Mix: Aaron Sarlo

    Hello, friends, well-wishers, and other. Some of you know me from one of my music projects, be it the world-pummeling smart people rock band, The Dangerous Idiots, the balls-out, conceptual thinkpiece, Duckstronaut, or the powerpop wünderband, Techno Squid Eats Parliament. Perhaps you know me as a stand-up comedian, onaccounta I do that, too. Or, maybe you know me from Shoog Radio, the radio show that plays “The best in Arkansas music." I don’t know how you know me. That’s why I had to type all that stuff.
    • Aug 28, 2015
  • Singer/songwriter Adam Faucett is on his way

    To describe Faucett for newcomers, think Mark Kozelek or Gordon Lightfoot, but with the voice of an angel that's been set on fire and the look and soul of a feral biker. Think brilliant lyrics sung by a voice that's ever-so-slightly smoky, yet shakes the heavens like Gabriel's trumpet.
    • Jun 27, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • An uneven 'Macbeth'

    Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth carries the play.
    • Sep 17, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Theater Reviews

  • Standout acting

    In romantic 'Bridges.'
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Life during wartime

    The Rep updates Homer with 'An Iliad.'
    • Mar 3, 2016
  • A modern Pan

    "Peter and the Starcatcher" adds a modern flair to the Peter Pan story.
    • Jan 28, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Lessons learned

    • I think you meant to write, 'Consider for a minute Bret Bielema pole vaulting.' As…

    • on October 20, 2016
  • Re: Good Weather

    • Great article, true words!! Good Weather is an amazing place.

    • on October 20, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation