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  Henry V at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Henry V

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 East Grand Avenue Chicago

Henry V is Shakespeare's rallying cry, celebrating the power of language to summon battlefields from thin air and ignite our souls to action.

Thru - Jun 15, 2014

Price: $48-$88

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-595-5600

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  Henry V Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...Luscombe's production, his first in Chicago, is tad elusive and seemingly reluctant to really push a strong point of view. For one thing, you don't get the sense that Luscombe really knew how to handle the French. "Henry V" is a tough show for a Brit to direct in America. Given that Shakespeare stacked the deck against the French, rendering them mostly comedic, and went to absurd lengths to protect his English hero from the tarnish of piling on with the battlefield death, you can see Luscombe's dilemma. The resultant show, staged with a mostly traditional feel (taped trumpets, big old flag, leather pants, that kind of thing) feels tentative, especially initially, when it seems almost like a modest take on the play, rather than the actual full-throated play. I think I noticed that diffidence especially because the last "Henry V:" I saw, from the director Des McAnuff at the Stratford Festival, was exploding with ideas, the most interesting of which was how the internal strife that afflicts bilingual, modern-day Canada is an outgrowth of the truce that Henry engineers with poor Princess Katherine (Laura Rook) in the last scene. "Hi," he basically says to her. "I just killed a lot of Frenchman. But you still should love me." And she does. Not too many French folks at the Globe Theatre."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Christopher Luscombe's staging of the Bard's history play is the first I've seen even to allude to that fact, and the brief archer tableau Luscombe supplies is oddly satisfying. So are other moments, like the one where Samuel Taylor's pipsqueak French dauphin throws hip-hop gestures in the midst of an otherwise period-faithful production, and those in which Larry Neumann Jr., Greg Vinkler, and Brett Tuomi supply endearingly eccentric low comedy. But Harry Judge fails to summon gravitas when he needs it as the title monarch. At once studied and ingenuous, he comes across throughout like Zac Efron giving a poetry reading."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Harry Judge makes a Tom Sawyer-ish Henry, whose manners at court hints at the too-careful precision of a boy addressing grown-ups for the first time, as his later exhortations to his armies will reflect the scrappiness of a schoolboy rallying his sandlot teammates. This homespun Yankee bearing contrasts sharply with that of his immediate rival-the effete Dauphin ( dressed, like all the Gallic personnel, in fancy-shmanzy gold-brocade civvies, while Henry's followers are never seen out of uniform ). The good guys also include officers from the four corners of the British commonwealth, who set aside their regional rivalries-but not their disparate dialects-to fight side by side."

Mary Shen Barnidge

Centerstage - Recommended

"...The most important question of this entire play is, would you follow Henry V into battle? The answer here is “no.” But overall, this show is well worth the price of admission. You’ll get your laughs and battle scenes, plus a bit of romantic comedy. Make it a date night."

Amber Hargrode

Chicagoist - Recommended

"...But luckily, the Chicago Shakespeare crew focuses on what they do best: satisfying, eloquent deliveries of a play known for its duplicitous opinions on the nature of war. This production seems to come down more on the side of patriotism (versus battlefield valor), which is a relief to those who want more from Henry V. It’s Shakespeare, it seems, who truly reigns on."
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Melody Udell

Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Judge, a regular player at the Shaw Festival, is not an ideal fit as Henry. The king is meant to be a young carouser finally coming into responsible leadership, true, but Judge, with his reedy voice, fresh-scrubbed face and modern affect, is fighting the same uphill battle as Colin Jost as "Weekend Update" anchor on Saturday Night Live, trying to project authority while giving the impression of a wholesome kid playing dress-up in his dad's suit. Perhaps if Luscombe's production had a stronger point of view, Judge would seem stronger in turn. But for all its rousing speeches, this Henry V doesn't have much to say."
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Kris Vire

ShowBizChicago - Highly Recommended

"...was a wordsmith in its purest definition. Who else could take one of the bloodiest wars to date, depict the carnage with visceral palpability, yet allow a director of the piece never to show a drop of red? In my estimation, only the Bard himself could accomplish this near impossible task. His brilliance of story and relationships is again brought to fruition in Chicago Shakespeare’s high-octane production of Henry V, where under the masterful eye of acclaimed British actor/director Christopher Luscombe, this epic play about the 1415 Battle of Agincourt becomes a humanistic story about friendship, trust, love and compassion."
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Michael Roberts

Theatre By Numbers - Recommended

"...The set was amazing. Kevin Depinet’s simple, strong stage elements, such as a rotating and inclining wall that made up most of the needed structures for the tale was both imposing and highly functional. It set the tone for the entire production. And when I say simple, i don’t mean that they are technologically lacking, but that they are straightforward with only a couple of elements per scene, but those elements are more than just impressive, and the first time the wall moves the audience is just as enthralled as during some of the more dramatic parts of the show itself."
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Christopher Kidder-Mostrom

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...This is a “Henry V” of epic stage scale, majestic and, in its dark fashion, splendorous. Costume designer Mariann E. Verheyen has tricked out both armies in somber weeds of war, and muted hues prevail in Kevin Depinet’s set design. Matt Hawkins’ fight choreography for Agincourt is as complex and engaging as any I can recall, though it makes a sudden, brief shift into slow motion that serves mainly to shatter the spell of realism."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...It’s admirable how much eloquence soars from a script that could easily be crushed by the sheer weight of its rampaging action (though the tedious bit with Henry and a glove he exchanges with Bret Tuomi’s choleric Bardolph could be shortened). We may be rooting for the wrong side—happily, almost a decade after Henry’s death, Joan of Arc turned the tables—but we cheer nonetheless. A perfect play for and about young men, Henry V has been perfectly preserved by its own testosterone-flavored adrenalin."
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Lawrence Bommer

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...British director Christopher Luscombe’s accessible Henry V is a tour de force from Canadian actor Harry Judge who possesses the youthfulness, charm and charisma necessary to be the wild tavern patron who hung with Falstaff now thrust into leadership as King Henry V of England. He abounds his old drinking pals Bardolph (Bret Tuomi), Nym (Larry Neumann, Jr.), and Pistol ( Greg Vinkler), all of whom morn the death of the Falstaff, as Henry is determined to be an effective monarch."
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Tom Williams

Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...I admit, I am something of a Shakespeare addict. I find new and enlightening moments in the text every time I hear it, whether it’s a high school staged reading, a community theatre mangle job, or the gorgeous well thought professional versions at CST. Henry V is a tale you keep returning to with the hope that someday it will be an archeological curiosity because humans have evolved beyond settling disagreements by killing one another. If you have not seen this one in a while, truck on down to Navy Pier and ruminate on our collective nature."

Angela Allyn

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The play, though, is anything but somber; and despite being over two hours it will not bore or confuse you as some of the Histories can. We do enjoy spending our evening with Henry—indeed by the end of this rousing production we might even be itching to join him on the battlefield!"
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Jon Baskin

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...This much-welcome revival of one of Shakespeare’s most exciting and thought-provoking dramas is a production that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a play that will thrill even the most complacent patron while offering moments of incomparable visual beauty and spoken eloquence. A talented cast working together with some of Chicago’s finest theatre technicians and guided by a brilliant director toward the same degree of excellence is always a recipe for success. In Luscombe’s refreshingly stimulating production, however, excellence is even surpassed."

Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...So, don’t expect gimmicks in the CST production. Director Luscombe has added a few tweaks, but purely in the service of making the play accessible to even a neophyte audience. The depth of the acting is the staging’s greatest badge of honor. I suspect that Judge’s strength lie more in the comic arena and he would be a fine choice as an Orlando in “As You Like It” or Sebastian in “Twelfth Night.” But as the centerpiece of “Henry V,” he is still admirable and the talent surrounding him is exceptional."

Dan Zeff

The Fourth Walsh - Highly Recommended

"...HENRY V is excellent! Under Luscombe’s direction, this dusty classic explores the fraternal brotherhood of war. The expedition examines the honor behind the nobility. HENRY V inspires. A true leader leads by example. This HENRY V should be seen. Unfortunately the run is sold-out, I highly recommend calling the box office and getting on a waiting list."
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Katy Walsh

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   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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