Wall Street Journal - ‘Henry V’ Review: The King’s Not Dead, Long Live the King!

‘Henry V’ Review: The King’s Not Dead, Long Live the King!

An extraordinarily fine small-scale production of Shakespeare’s play proves that it’s still worth performing frequently staged classics

"John P. Keller, who is both grippingly incisive as young Henry and preposterously foppish as the Dauphin."

By Terry Teachout

The Wall Street Journal

Feb. 26, 2015 4:32 p.m. ET

Orlando, Fla.

Henry V

John P. Keller in 'Henry V' at Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. Photo: Tony Firriolo  

John P. Keller in 'Henry V' at Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. Photo: Tony Firriolo
 

Orlando Shakespeare Theater
Lowndes Shakespeare Center,
812 E. Rollins St., Orlando, Fla. ($20-$45), 407-447-1700
Goldman Theater,
Closes March 22

Orlando Shakespeare Theatre is a puzzlement, a first-class drama company whose stature is too often obscured by unadventurous programming. It’s only because I already knew how good Orlando Shakespeare is that I went out of my way to see its production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and Jim Helsinger’s “Henry V” poses a like problem: Why bother with yet another revival of a classic that gets done so very often? The answer is that this is an extraordinarily fine small-scale production of a supremely great history play, performed on an open stage in a 118-seat theater by six men and two women, all of them outstanding. Everyone in the cast plays double or triple roles, even John P. Keller, who is both grippingly incisive as young Henry and preposterously foppish as the Dauphin. Mr. Helsinger’s staging is propelled by a strong comic energy that is never allowed to undercut the high seriousness of the proceedings. You’ll laugh—plenty—but not at the heroism that is Shakespeare’s point, and the clamorous battle scene (ingeniously lighted by Eric T. Haugen) is spectacular in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible in so intimate a setting.