Saturday, May 30, 2015
H 6 v2
RUN don't walk down to the Suffolk Modern Theatre (located atop the ruins of the Combat Zone on Washington Street in Downtown Boston) to see Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part Two, ably directed by Shakespeare & Company's own Tina Packer. *** I won't try to hide it, I love Henry the Sixth, Part Two, part of the appeal lies in the repulsive portrait of the scheming English Nobility and their endless cabals and schemes against their hapless inept but goodhearted King Henry...one could easily infer that Shakespeare Had It In for ambitious aristocrats. Quite literally every single character in the course of this sprawling two and a half hour play comes to a sad or violent end from Monarch down the most inauspicious Knight. Its not quite as relentlessly violent as "Titus Andronicus" with it's thirty plus gruesome homicides, but Henry the Sixth has the same grim tone and waiting in the wings like a grinning incubus is arch hell hound himself Richard the Third. Yes it is a long play with a convoluted plot, but like any good renaissance schemer, Director Tina Packer knows how to impart celerity to her proceedings, the production just seems shorter and so much more intense by some directorial alchemy only known to Her and perhaps her best creative Grand Sire Orson Welles. And I'd also like to take this opportunity to decloset myself a bit and declare; I Love Jack Cade he is one of Shakespeare's most inspired creations, a blusterly authoritarian would be revolutionary leader whose plan for England's reformation includes abolishing money and burning down the grammar schools. Cade is himself nothing but the dupe of the power-hungry Duke of York who hopes to use the uprising as a means to depose Henry and Seize Power. This is Shakespeare neatly illustrating Edward Luttwak's famous dictum that their are revolutionary leaders whose rebellions do nothing except hold the bridle that some glittering Generalissimo may Mount Up and Ride. Allyn Burrows is superlative as the overburdened Duke of Gloucester (Henry's defacto First Minister) but his turn as Jack Cade has a sort of Strangelovenian glee to it. Given all this and the sheer amount of fun I had watching one Shakespeare's less well known histories I'd like to renew a public plea for Tina Packer to please direct Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus" As Soon As Possible. Her reputation is made, the Actor's Shakepeare Project has a vast amount of talent on hand and Boston needs a definitive staging of Marlowe's Faustus...think about it Tina Now Is The Time, This Is The Moment.