Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review of Babes with Blades' Henry V

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Henry V. It was by William Shakespeare and it was directed by Hayley Rice. It was about Henry the Fifth (Diana Coates) and the war with France and how he learns responsibility to his country. It is about loyalty, royalty, and history. It wasn't just a normal Henry V. There were scenes of it set in a high school, which I thought was really interesting. The Chorus (Chelsea Rolfes) was basically like your history teacher and she was trying to convey extra information to you about Henry's family and the war and what happened after the war. The fighting, the storytelling, and Henry's motivational speeches are very important in this show and they were all done well. I think it is really awesome that Babes with Blades does all-women versions of Shakespeare; I think it is really empowering.

I think that Diana Coates did a great job with the role of Henry. All of her speeches seemed really relevant and interesting. Even though the character is not usually a feminist at all, she made it seem very feminist. Because everyone seems to doubt Henry, that he can do the job well, it reminds me a lot of the ways that women in power are portrayed or thought of as weaker than men. Henry shows that he is actually a good king even though people didn't think he would be one. This Henry seems so sincere whenever he speaks and like who you would want to follow and help support him. I think the St. Crispin's Day speech should be turned into a song so people can jog to it. I had heard it before, but never so well done. It was so motivational. I liked how intimate it was and how he was just talking to her group of friends and not a giant army. I feel like that made it more meaningful and it seemed like he was talking to you in the audience. I think Diana was very present the whole time and, whenever anyone else was talking, she seemed to be listening, which I think is very very important for actors. It is really great when you see an actor who is intriguing but also intrigued.

I thought that the Princess Katherine (Alison Vodnoy Wolf) and her lady-in-waiting Alice (Rolfes) had the best comic-relief scenes. In the first scene that featured them, Alice was just teaching Katherine the names of the body parts in English. Like she learned how to say foot, but she pronounced it like foute, which is a bad word in French. Katherine says it like she can't even believe that is what they call pied in English. They are giggling but also feeling bad for giggling. It reminds me of me and my friends. Katherine and Alice seem to be very close and I think this is a very cute relationship. I really hope Alice gets to stay with Katherine when she moves in with Henry. I thought this was a good break from the fighting to see a normal relationship that wasn't full of conflict. It also shows that Shakespeare is not trying to say all French are stuck up snobs like the French King (Catherine Dvorak), the Dauphin (Samantha Kaufman), and Montjoy (Alexis Randolph). In this scene they actually seem like real people. Also, of course, after Henry wins the war, the king had to give him his daughter Katherine to marry. This doesn't seem like the best plan, because she is a real person and not an object, but Henry does seem to be nice to her and it seems like he will treat her like a human being even though her father doesn't. Even though Henry and Katherine don't speak the same language, when they meet they try to put in bits of the other person's language. I think that means they are both trying to understand each other better.

I thought that the fights (designed by Kim Fukawa, assisted by Gaby Labotka) were really cool. They seemed really real and fluid. I thought the big battle near the end was awesome. I loved how it included all the actors and it all seemed very up close and real, especially in a small space. I love stage combat in a small space because it makes you feel so much closer to the action. The problem with stage combat in a small space if you are the actor is the danger of hitting someone in the audience in the face, and they did not. The show also had smaller, more intimate fights like with Michael Williams (Randolph) and Fluellen (Morgan Manasa). This was a comedic fight. They were wrestling on the floor and then the king walked in. It was not exactly the best time for either of them. There are two separate speeches from Fluellen and Williams and they ran them together trying to tell the king what happened, which was hilarious.

People who would like this show are people who like awesome stage combat, motivational speeches, and accidentally swearing. I think this was a really fun show. It made me see a different side of Henry that I liked. I think people who have and haven't seen Henry V can all learn a lot from this production and enjoy it.

Photos: Johnny Knight

1 comment:

David Sarkies said...

I really enjoyed reading that. While not one of my favourite plays, it certainly has a place in my heart. I also saw a similar version where the play was performed by professional actors playing school children, who were performing the play in a bunker in World War II. It was quite good. I liked the idea of an all female version, we no doubt twists the play around considering that it was prominently male characters.