MONMOUTH — A powerful production of William Shakespeare’s “Henry V” is on stage at the Theater at Monmouth in repertory performances throughout August.
The strong cast is led by Jake Loewenthal as King Henry, a rash young English monarch of the early 15th century who takes his countrymen to war in France. Against overwhelming odds, he wins victory as well as the French princess at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) during the Hundred Years’ War.
Loewenthal, in his first season with TAM, brings out the strength and honor of King Henry. One of the play’s memorable scenes is the king’s walk in disguise among his men to evaluate their mood and loyalty.
Growing up as the headstrong and exuberant Prince Hal, no one expected him to emerge as the true son and heir of England. In this play, Henry rallies his troops with the well-known speech that proclaims the bonds of “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”
Several other TAM favorites have pivotal roles in “Henry V.”
James Hoban, in his sixth season with TAM, delivers a compelling portrayal of the King of France, and Tim Kopacz, in his first season with TAM, plays the Dauphin, heir apparent to the French throne. He mocks the English king at every opportunity, and Kopacz handles the role proficiently.
Chris White, also new at TAM this year, gives an impressive performance as Henry’s uncle, the Duke of Exeter. He is a level-headed advisor to Henry and his military officers, and he’s also a go-between for contacts with the French king.
Janis Stevens, a veteran of TAM productions for the past 20 years, has the important role of “Chorus,” a narrator who explains and advances the story at several points.
Stevens also plays the tutor of the French princess, Katherine (very well played by Kelsey Burke, in her first season). They are a delightful duo in the show’s principal comic scene. Because her father has given her hand to the English king, and she speaks only French, they undertake a language lesson. It starts with body parts and develops into a hilarious exchange, somewhat spicy, and spoken almost entirely in French.
Bill Van Horn, a TAM favorite for 14 years, plays Pistol. It’s a minor comic role of a blustery London commoner, and it’s right up this performer’s alley.
Cumston Hall’s stage in the historic building’s small-scale opera house is perfect for Shakespearean productions. Even battlefield clashes between armies of thousands of men take place with remarkable credibility, and TAM’s actors and production crew deliver outstanding and imaginative theatercraft for “Henry V.”
Mark Mineaert, who has international credits through a 25-year career, is director. The settings by Brittany Vasta are minimal, as was the case on Elizabethan stages.
Kathleen Payton Brown‘s costumes of period armor and court finery are excellent.
There’s imaginative and effective lighting by Jason Fok and rousing battle scenes by fight director Leighton Samuels, which give this production plenty of excitement. Lighting designer Jason Fok contributes effective visual effects. There’s also good sound design by Rew Tippin.
Erica Murphy plays Montjoy, a frequent messenger between the kings. Lucas Calzada appears as Constable, the French military leader. Christopher Holt plays Fluellen, a Welch captain, and Mark S. Cartier, in his 20th season with TAM, plays three supporting roles. Most of the cast members play multiple roles. Other performers include Michael Dolan, Joe Mariani, Rob Glauz, Blythe Coons and Isabella Etro.
Upcoming presentations of “Henry V” are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6; 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11; 7 p.m. Aug. 14; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16; and 1 p.m. Aug. 20.
A children’s production of “Puss in Boots” is presented on Saturdays in August.
Other TAM shows scheduled for August include Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano,” and Corneille’s “The Illusion.” The annual mid-September comedy is “Boeing, Boeing.”
For show dates, visit www.theateratmonmouth.org. For tickets, contact the TAM box office at 207-933-9999.