I’ve slowly been working my way through Shakespeare’s Kings (recommended), so when I realized that Henry IV was playing at the Seattle Shakespeare Company, I decided to go. It’s an adaptation of Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2.
Henry IV usurped the crown from his cousin Richard II. The crown sits uneasily upon his head, rebellion is brewing, and his heir, Prince Hal (the future Henry V), is a wastrel who carouses with thieves like the fat rogue Falstaff. Hal, Falstaff, Henry IV, and Harry Hotspur (the rebel leader) are the central characters in this play. Hal’s dissolution is compared unfavorably to Hotspur’s chivalry. He must redeem himself in his father’s eyes and cast off the influence of Falstaff, the "tutor and feeder of my riots".
This is an energetic production, with a good deal of sword fighting in the battle scenes in the second act. The larger than life Falstaff steals many of his scenes, while Hal must move nimbly between comedy and tragedy. Most of the cast adeptly juggle multiple roles.
Ends Sunday, November 16th. Recommended.