Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

The position of king to a country is a weighty responsibility, even heavier than the crown he wears. Preparing a prince for the monarchy is never easy, especially if the young man in question is so busy exercising his indiscretions and associating with rogues and fools like a Sir John Falstaff, a flagrant example of impropriety. Such is the youthful fate of Prince Hal, a grave disappointment to his father Henry IV.

To enter into the frivolous life of the monarch-to-be, attend the sterling epic presentation of “King Henry IV” by William Shakespeare, currently mounting the stage of the Jorgensen Auditorium, courtesy of the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, until Sunday, May 5, on the campus of the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

Sebastian Nagpal’s Prince Hal shows the shadow of leadership but is not ready to settle down and assume his role as head of the nation. He enjoys his days and nights with his unlikely companion Falstaff, an outrageous Michele Tauber, who enjoys playing the fool and buffoon, drinks to excess, exaggerates wildly, plots excessively and lies profusely. How is the impressionable Prince Hal to resist?

Would you want Falstaff mentoring to your son as he prepares to assume the crown? Can you understand why the King (Aaliyah Habeeb) would feel Hal unworthy? Can Hal throw off his robes of dissolution and be ready to lead his nation, England?

The play begins with a wonderful look at the relationship of Falstaff and Hal as concerns a highway robbery orchestrated by the rogue and counter manned by his young pledge. The comic doings are soon abandoned as the world turns serious and enemies appear at the doorstep, lead by a valiant Percy in the person of Erin Cessna, accompanied by Bryan Mittelstadt’s Worchester and Rob Barnes’ Glendower.

Once the King’s lieges, they are now on the other side of the sword and sworn to fight in the battle of Shrewsbury. Greg Webster serves as the fight choreographer against a set designed by Kristen P-E Zarabozo.

Madeline Sayet directs this epic three hour history play that probes relationships and rising to expectations in the face of necessity. For tickets ($31-35, student $10),
call 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu.

Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Watch how Prince Hal assumes an air of dignity and rises to the challenge of becoming the man his father desperately needs him to be.