Once More Unto a Bleachers … : Genesius Guild’s “Henry V,” during Lincoln Park by Jul 30

Last week, some friends and we got on a subject of worried entertainment practice in shows we were in, and we common one from an opening-night opening in that a lead walked on-stage and spoken a play’s unequivocally initial line, and an aged voice in a assembly demanded, “Speak up!!!” Regardless of that individual’s age and/or hearing, we counsel it a rather bold bit of heckling. But on Sunday, we saw Genesius Guild’s prolongation of Henry V, and … . Well, let’s customarily contend that we now have some-more magnetism for that clearly undone patron.

Everything, it seemed, was in place for a enthralling and pleasant night in Lincoln Park, commencement with a uncharacteristically amiable weather: Temperatures were mild, a lovely zephyr frequently wafted through, and, in a monument this summer, there wasn’t even a spirit of rain. (In Executive Director Doug Tschopp’s rudimentary remarks, he addressed both a outside conditions and a turnout, that numbered about 70, with, “It’s a pleasing night. Where is everybody?!” A ask to anyone delivering identical pre-show announcements in a future: Please don’t anxiety unsatisfactory attendance, even in jest. You’re customarily creation a people who did show adult feel awkward.)

But there were copiousness of other reasons to be jazzed from a start. The module listed a appearance of 31 actors, dual of them double-cast, and it’s always fun to see a Guild theatre superfluous with informed and uninformed talent. That fiercely means Guild maestro Michael King was directing, his 2016 Much Ado About Nothing and 2015 Macbeth two of a organization’s some-more inventive, gratifying offerings of new years. Ellen Dixon, magnify her overworked heart, was again portion as dress engineer (and again, her habit selections would infer stupendous). This was a initial time Guild was entertainment Shakespeare’s famed story play in some-more than 3 decades, creation it a loyal once-in-a-generation experience. And on tip of all this, it was Henry V, for Pete’s sake, with a stately denunciation and stirring tongue and abounding characters and still-surprising culmination that effectively turns a conflict epic into an Elizabethan rom-com. What, as a observant goes, could presumably go wrong?


In a initial mins on Sunday, a answer was primarily “nothing,” since George Cornelius strode on-stage as a Chorus and spoke with an authority, intent, and bonhomie suggesting that this Hundred Years’ War story was in terrifically secure hands, as it positively was during any of a actor’s most-welcome appearances. As carol total in a Bard’s criterion go, Henry V’s is one of a many helpful, yet also one of a cheekiest. He frequently pops adult to tell us accurately where and since events are shifting, nonetheless customarily reminds a assembly that this is merely a play, and one with distinct stipulations – that it’s adult to us to suppose stampedes of infantry and horses and, in his words, “piece out a imperfections with your thoughts.” With his clever participation and robust laugh, Cornelius does a miraculous pursuit with this conceit. (King also gives him an comical bit of combined comic business involving a chain of a Guild’s “Intermission” sign.) But piecing out a production’s imperfections on Sunday mostly valid difficult, deliberation we could hardly hear some-more than half a cast.

For a record, we was observation a goings-on from a house-right – or rather, park-right – bleachers about 4 rows from a top, not in a seating area directly in front of a stage. But to hopefully equivalent any thoughts of “So since didn’t we pierce closer?!” or “So since don’t we get your conference checked, aged man?!”, let me supplement a few things: (1) I’m still in my 40s, if barely; (2) we wasn’t sitting many over from where we customarily do for Guild outings; (3) congregation should be means to hear everybody on-stage regardless of where their Guild-provided seating is; and (4) we checked in with a half-dozen friends during break – all of them seated toward a front, all of them in their 20s – and they couldn’t hear actors, either. To misquote a renouned dissection refrain: “It’s not me; it’s you.” The altogether projection and articulation on Jul 23 were so diseased that it was achingly tough to grasp what was being pronounced or what was going on, and this is entrance from someone who, carrying review Henry V and seen several productions on theatre and screen, feels he knows a element during slightest good adequate to sign a plot.

This miss of volume and clarity wasn’t, we dive to add, an emanate for each singular expel member, and generally not for Steven Mondloch, who, blessedly, was a King Henry. Actively benefaction and vocally forceful from his initial seconds on-stage, Mondloch pulled off what were undoubtedly a many critical moments to pull off, as Henry’s mythological St. Crispin’s Day debate and “Once some-more unto a breach, dear friends … !” roof-raiser were about as pleasing and rousing as they indispensable to be. (The biggest grins we got from a prolongation came from Mondloch’s readings, generally on his moving “We few, we happy few, we rope of brothers …” oration.) The sotto voce confusion surrounding him meant we didn’t get as many clarity of Henry’s impression as we would’ve liked, and his Act V offer to Elizabeth Shaffer’s French-speaking Katharine found Mondloch channel a line into contemptible buffoonery, that was, to contend a least, jarring. (The actor’s smoothness of “Here comes your father!” was overtly hilarious, yet given Henry’s prior eloquence, customarily where did this melodramatic-goofball Henry come from?) All things considered, though, Mondloch was topnotch, and during slightest we could understand him, that wasn’t always a box for even a louder members of King’s ensemble.


Among that assemblage of 31, we had positively no problems gleaning a objectives, temperaments, and, putting it bluntly, words of Bryan Woods’ John Bates and Philip Tunnicliff’s Michael Williams; in one unequivocally excellent stage between these actors and Mondloch, all 3 even managed to plan above that nightly 9:30 p.m. bugle solo on Arsenal Island. Guild veterans Mischa Hooker, Tyler Henning, and James Alt had no difficulty creation themselves listened and their motives understood, while Neil Tunnicliff done himself listened and accepted with a pleasant Welsh accent to boot, his comic service Fluennen quite pleasant when expressing physically uncontainable complacency beside his king. And Faith Douglas was feisty, assured, and vocally transparent in a purpose of a French Dauphin, her sardonically jaunty snarls and sneers suggesting a less-noxious Joffrey from Game of Thrones. (Major kudos, by a way, to King for reversing Guild’s tradition of customarily fixation masculine actors in masculine roles, with other cross-gender casting function around performers including Kathy Calder, Patriece Gabryshak, Kaylee Gundling, Shannon Ryan, and Anna Tunnicliff. At one indicate in Guild’s latest, there were 5 soldiers on-stage and some-more than half of them were women. Never suspicion I’d see a day.)

Otherwise, we found this Henry V largely populated with possibly desirable performers (Shaffer, Jessica Holzknecht, Pierce Howard) who didn’t plan adequate for their full attract to register, or actors with sufficient projection (Scott Tunnicliff, Doug Adkins, Ralph Baechle) whose inner pauses and less-than-clear motivations done it unequivocally tough to commend their accurate functions in a story; we got a words, yet not always what they meant. And, sadly, matters weren’t helped by a presumably counsel stagnancy of a staging. A few sequences, such as a one that finds Katharine and Holzknecht’s Alice translating French difference into English, exaggerate a satisfactory grade of vibrancy. (In that sold scene, it killed me to onslaught with comprehension, since a witty Shaffer and Holzknecht demeanour to be carrying a ball, and Shaffer appears entirely assured rattling off French dialogue.) Far some-more of them, however, underline small chorus-line configurations of characters station in a quarrel and tossing hardly heard information during one another; while a problem isn’t only Guild’s fault, it feels roughly impolite that this wartime tale should find a biggest fad in events a Chorus merely tells us about. Here’s anticipating second-weekend congregation can hear a full range of Henry V’s movement even when they can see it, or they, too, competence leave with a certain Dauphin line toll in their ears: “What a prolonged night is this!”


Henry V runs during Lincoln Park (11th Avenue and 38th Street, Rock Island) by Jul 30, and some-more information is accessible by visiting Genesius.org.

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