GreenStage, one of the longest running Shakespeare companies in Seattle, opened its summer season with a robust, straightforward adaptation of Shakespeare’s history King Henry IV, Part I, directed by Amelia Meckler Bowers. Eschewing any kind of updated or affected adaptation, GreenStage confidently takes the play at its word and time, with period-appropriate dress courtesy Costume Designer Elizabeth Power.
The history is carried out beautifully by a talented cast of actors, all of whom shine and show a real intimacy in the fluid blocking, impassioned declarations of war and malice, and in the frowned-upon friendship of Hal, the uninterested heir apparent to King Henry IV, his beleaguered father, and Sir John Falstaff. Hal and Falstaff provide the humor to Henry and pretender to the throne Hotspur’s intensity, with all sides of the drama unfolding with a deft touch from the cast. Hotspur, played by Tom Livingston, especially shines in moments of outrage and quiet both, especially when playing off of Aubrey Kaye’s Lady Percy. Meanwhile, Hal and Falstaff, played by Matt Gilworth and Graham Pilato, make for an amiable leading pair.
The production is largely stripped down, boasting excellent choreography both in the blocking and fighting to fill in spare set design. The strength of the performances and the cast’s wonderful rapport more than make Henry IV, Part I a strong outing from GreenStage.
GreenStage performs for free; for more information on their touring schedule for the summer, go to http://greenstage.org/henry-iv-part-1/.