Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Into The Hazard [Henry V]


By William Shakespeare, Adapted/Directed by Jessica Bauman. (CLOSED)

Although reviewers have many compliments for director Jessica Bauman, the cast of Into the Hazard [Henry V] and its video designer, they have two chief complaints. First, while the show has been retitled and billed as an "adaptation" it is actually just a high-concept modern dress production of Shakespeare's Henry V, and second that the multimedia shenanigans distract from a potentially solid stripped-down Shakespeare production.

That Sounds Cool A-
(Aaron Riccio) The good news is, Bauman's show is "suffering" from a surfeit of riches. All the bells and whistles meant to contemporize the tale of a young and untried king being thrust into war are ultimately unnecessary--but they look pretty cool.

Time Out NY A-
(Helen Shaw)All six [actors] sit easily in the saddle, galloping through the pentameter with intensity and intelligence; even perched silently on the periphery of Christopher Akerlind’s severe set, they thrum with involvement. Dillenburg pitches his performance perfectly for the intimate space, showing us the playful pettiness that runs alongside Harry’s better qualities. And that, in the end, is what makes Hazard so heartbreakingly current. It’s not the reality-show send-up or the soldiers’ muddy camouflage. It’s how casually we recognize that the smallest men make the biggest wars.

The New York Times B
(Rachel Saltz) A straightforward presentation of Henry V lurks just below the surface of Into the Hazard [Henry 5], Jessica Bauman’s modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare’s play about war and the seductions of power. Ms. Bauman, who also directed, has cut some text, rearranged bits and added a television monitor. But strip away that monitor and restore a few soaring passages, and you would have Shakespeare’s story of King Henry leading the English into war against France.

CurtainUp C+
(Gregory A. Wilson) In the end, the disappointment in this production may stem mostly from bad timing. Three years ago, the representation of Henry as a militaristic, driven and selfish leader given to unnecessary foreign adventures might well have spoken powerfully to its audience's contemporary discontent. That environment now seems firmly in the rear-view mirror, displaced by optimism about the current administration (or at least a weariness regarding the immediate past one) and concern over other matters closer to home. Thus the impact of Bauman's interpretation is substantially dulled. Into the Hazard [Henry 5] is by no means a bad production. But ultimately it's hard not to view it as a missed opportunity, and hard not to wish it had hit the stage in 2006 instead of 2009.

Backstage C-
(Andy Propst) Writer-director Jessica Bauman's Into the Hazard [Henry V] may be billed as an adaptation of Shakespeare's popular history play, but it really is just a modern-dress multimedia production in which an overreliance on video to craft a commentary on warfare in the electronic age immeasurably dilutes the power and potency of Shakespeare's work.

Village Voice C-
(Miriam Felton-Dansky) Bauman's video elements also contradict her otherwise understated approach to Henry V. Her ensemble plays on a bare stage; those not performing watch from the sidelines. The trimmed-down script and spare direction, featuring an appropriately sophomoric Henry (Nick Dillenburg), are Bauman's best achievements—revealing that, even without live video feed, Henry's savvy manipulations of public perception are rife with contemporary parallels.

TSC A- 12; TONY A- 12; NYT B 10; CU C+ 8; BS C- 6; VV C- 6; TOTAL: 54/6=9 (B-)

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