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Teen Critics reviews: Henry IV, Part 1 & 2

Teen Critic’s respond to Henry IV, Part 1 & 2

STC’s Teen Critic’s program provides District area high school students with a chance to refine their writing skills and critical eye.  Below are excerpts from their reviews of Henry IV, Part 1 & 2

Zoe Johnson, Montgomery Blair High School

The ensemble is across-the-board strong, with particularly fine performances from Jude Sandy as the energetic Ned Poins and Kelley Curran as Hotspur’s devoted and strong-willed wife. Keabler, as Hotspur, carries a remarkable physicality throughout the show that makes him the embodiment of his name; his passion is both frightening and stirring, and—SPOILER ALERT—when he dies, it feels as though all the energy has been sapped from the room.

The show’s design generally supports the strength of the cast, creating a subtle tone shift between scenes and underlining their messages. The costumes and lighting produce a murky, almost dreary feeling that reflects the grimness of both Hal’s pastimes and the approaching rebellion. Similarly, the set (designed by Alexander Dodge), which at first appears nondescript, turns out to be exceptionally evocative: at patriotic moments, the outline of Great Britain glows against it; in times of warfare, it opens to become a battlefield; and in times of emotional strife, its walls surround its inhabitants tightly, literally closing in on them in their vulnerable states.

Abbey Bonin, Oakton High School

Stacy  Keach as the fun loving Falstaff enjoys his influence over Prince Hal and encourages behaviors such as riotous drinking, womanizing and schemes of robbery.  His cherub face, white hair and round belly gave him the look of an Elizabethan Santa Claus. Even his costume by Ann Hould-Ward resembled that of a large elf.

As joyous and playful as Falstaff and Hal are at the beginning of Part I, the future looms and we know that Prince Henry has some serious issues to confront in Part II.

Tara Holman, George Mason High School

Both Part I and Part II are full of contrasts and distinctions. Shakespeare alternates between the grave and weighty scenes of the rebellion and Falstaff’s kooky, comical schemes. More specifically, Shakespeare foils Falstaff’s constant, nonsensical nature with Prince Hal’s evolving maturity. As the production progresses, Hal straddles the fence between his role in the war by his father’s side and pick-pocketing bystanders with Falstaff. Albeit foils for each other, Matthew Amendt and Stacy Keach seamlessly play the role of mentor and apprentice with the  fondness of a real mentor and apprentice.

In addition to contrasts and foils, Michael Kahn’s direction of Henry Percy (John Keibler) and Lady Percy’s (Kelley Curran) passionate exchanges highlights the similarities between the two characters. Nicknamed “Hotspur” for his quick temper and zeal, Henry Percy lives with his heart on his sleeve and is unapologetic for his fervency. A mirror of “Hotspur”, Lady Percy lives and loves passionately and is not to be mistaken as passive or weak. Curran’s strength and presence provides a refreshing air of womanhood in the midst of a male-dominated production.

Ivy Williams, KIPP DC College Preparatory

The fast paced drama, the dramatic battles that follow, the light humor, and the coming of age message makes Michael Kahn’s production worth seeing. Henry IV Part 2 is the production for all ages in which you could actually take away a moral while being entertained. The process of Hal partying with his friends, then at the deathbed of his father, sees that he must now at the time of need, take responsibility for it all falls on him now that his father is dying. The mix of wit and thoughtfulness added to this production allows the audience to be engaged while thinking in their chairs. Kahn has truly produced a production in which goes beyond the standards of entertainment.

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