Courtship follows warfare when Henry (Joe McGovern) woos French princess Katherine (Carole Weyers) in Pacific Resident Theatre’s Henry V.
Adapted and directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos, Pacific Resident Theatre’s reboot of Henry V strips Shakespeare’s romanticized spectacle of war down to its bare essentials.
Staged in a railroad-wide theater, the opening unfolds disconcertingly like a rehearsal, with actors lounging about, joking, stretching, reviewing lines – until the script comes out and the prologue begins (an excellent Alex Fernandez voices the Chorus).
Costumes and props remain sparse: One of the few signposts we get of Harry’s (Joe McGovern) transition from wastrel to monarch is the exchange of his high-top Converse sneakers for combat boots. Flashbacks to Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2, frame the prince’s ascent with deathbed exchanges with his father and his barfly days among Falstaff and company, a technique that makes Henry’s evolution more pronounced.
As the titular king, McGovern could play up the grit even further, but the rest of the nimble cast delights: Terrance Elton is a malevolent pleasure tripling as the foppish Dauphin, traitorous Lord Scroop and cynical everyman Williams, while Carole Weyers charms in an armistice vignette as a French princess learning English.
When it comes to actual battle, necessity proves the mother of invention: in the narrow space, Cienfuegos’ assured direction creates a symphony of movement.
Pacific Resident Theatre, 707 Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through April 20. (310) 822-8392, pacificresidenttheatre.com.
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