H4 heads to off Broadway
Published 4:51 pm, Monday, June 20, 2011
The very successful run of "H4," an original compilation of Shakespeare's "Henry IV" parts one and two, produced last summer by the Summer Theatre of New Canaan, opened in a new production on May 25, at the Resonance Ensemble (Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street). The play was directed by Allegra Libonati, who, along with Michcael Chmiel, Michael Nathanso, and Brian Silliman, adapted the work in 2010. It will play through June 18, in company with a new play called "Shakespeare's Slave."
Chmiel, Nathanson, and Silliman, each of whom had leading roles in the New Canaan production, return to the play in New York. The action in "H4" is presented as it might have been in the television series "24," with countdowns by the hours and days, and costumes and sets are mostly contemporary. The story reminds us that hijinks in the Royal Family have always been a concern to the Monarch. In this case young Prince Hal (Nathanson) carouses with Falstaff (Silliman) and leaves his father, King Henry IV, unable to imagine turning over the crown to his wastrel son. When Henry confronts Hal, Hal severs his relationship with the old knight, and grows up, quickly. By the end of the play viewers see him preparing to be crowned as Henry V.
The sarcastic dialogue between Hal and Falstaff, the night before Hal is summoned to the King, is one of Shakespeare's finest scenes, and it is given full fare in this production by Brian Silliman as Falstaff and Michael Nathanson as Hal.
Libonati is part of the founding family of the Summer Theatre of New Canaan. She has directed other Shakespeare plays for that company, including "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Taming of the Shrew." She is known and respected for cutting edge physical theatre, often found when she is directing. Having "H4" is an endorsement of her work, according to the theater.
Tickets and information are available at www.resonanceensemble.org.