Henry V

April 29

June 15, 2014

in CST's Courtyard Theater

by William Shakespeare
directed by Christopher Luscombe

Critical Acclaim

    A clear, eloquent Henry V reigns on Navy Pier. Director Christopher Luscombe knows how to forge stage pictures, and he makes potent use of CST's blend of proscenium and thrust vistas. Henry V was only just Prince Hal, and the skilled actor, Harry Judge certainly shows you the start of that trajectory over the course of the evening. It has charm, eloquence, vulnerability and spontaneity, and it feels newly minted. Plus, Judge is backed by experienced Chicago hands, including, as Exeter, Kevin Gudahl, an actor who has only deepened as he has aged.” Read full review.

Highly recommended. In his straightforward, fast-moving, wholly unmannered production, British actor-turned-director Christopher Luscombe capitalizes on all the innate virtues of Shakespeare's play. The play's rapidfire shifts from scenes of high tension and fevered combat, to human comedy and sophisticated romance, are effortlessly done. To be sure, there is no shortage of high-energy action here. Leading the charge as King Henry is Harry Judge, a lean, good-looking young actor who captures the unforced emotionalism and decency of a patrician soldier who feels the responsibility of his position, yet does not shy away from doing what must be done. James Newcomb brings a bravura touch to Captain Fluellen, the hilariously fiery Welshman with strong notions about military protocol. Greg Vinkler, Bret Tuomi and Larry Neumann, Jr. have great fun as those rogue veteran soldiers, Pistol, Bardolph and Nym. Kevin Quinn touches the heart as the Boy needlessly slain in war. One final note: It was in 1986, on the roof of Lincoln Park's Red Lion Pub, that a production of Henry V became the initial step in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's founding. Little could anyone have imagined that the play's opening line—'O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention'—would be so fully realized.”
Read full review.

“British director Christopher Luscombe's Henry V is a tour de force...a worthy, world class production that exemplifies fantastic acting by a troupe of committed players who know and respect Shakespeare's cannon. It is so refreshing to witness skilled players at the top of their art delivering such well-crafted material. This is not a stuffy history work, rather a consuming, articulate and thrilling production.”

“This much-welcome revival of one of Shakespeare's most exciting and thought-provoking dramas is a production that shouldn't be missed. Director Christopher Luscombe's production offers 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.”

     The depth of the acting is the staging's greatest badge of honor. As the centerpiece of Henry V, Harry Judge's Henry is eloquent and sincere...a likable figure and the type of caring soldier-king who could lead an outmanned army to an improbable victory against overwhelming odds. And the talent surrounding him is exceptional.”

“A superb director for seven years at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Christopher Luscombe brilliantly helms Chicago Shakespeare Theater's third revival of this war-loving play. This fast-paced, gloriously intoned 175-minute spectacle focuses like a laser on its title hero. Harry Judge's handsome, confident, and driven Henry is every inch a king. Watching this once and future master monarch, you almost wish Henry had lived longer or was matched by today's royalty.”

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