Written by 7:34 pm Review, Shakespeare by the Sea, Theater, Uncategorized

Shakespeare by the Sea presents: Henry IV @ Rush Park in Rossmoor – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis

Shakespeare by the Sea’s Henry IV is currently playing at various parks around Los Angeles and Orange County from June 29 to August 3, 2024.

I watched the production at Rush Park in Rossmoor, CA, next to Seal Beach. Productions may vary in different locations and performances. The show was plagued with sound issues, which were exacerbated by the open-air park, but the cast fought on valiantly and still delivered some quality performances on the night I went. Some heroes do wear capes—Shakespearean capes. Also, thank you to the hard-working sound crew that worked to rectify the sound issues.

Story:

Henry IV is one of Shakespeare’s many history plays. This one focuses on part of the reign of King Henry IV, as the play is titled. As the play progresses, King Henry, played by Jane Macfie, spends the play trying to quash a rebellion from the formerly loyal Percy family. Making things worse, the King’s son, Prince Hal, played by Trevor Guyton (who needs to be cast as Gavin Newsom, give him the role), chooses to spend most of his time with people below his station at a bar, wasting time instead of attending to his royal duties. Can Prince Hal get his life together? Will King Henry’s reign continue? This and more in Shakespeare’s Henry IV.

One thing to mention about Shakespeare by the Sea performances is that they are 100% free to the public. I didn’t need a ticket or an invitation.  I just walked onto the grass, spread my lucky jacket on the ground, and was thrust into the magical world of Shakespeare. If you get to the show early enough, you can watch the performers practice sword fighting before the drama commences, and it’s worth it. Bring your own chairs. If you are strong enough like me, you can sit on the grass, and if you’re smart enough, bring a chair. Since I arrived early and sat very close to the front, I was close to the action. Even with the aforementioned sound issues, I felt like I had experienced the play and what the production was going for. Undoubtedly, there were inconsistencies in the performances; but primarily, this cast was game.

Acting:

Jonathan Fisher (whom I reviewed about eight months ago at the Little Fish Theatre, formerly in San Pedro, in a great performance of Meteor Show) does not disappoint in the role of the fiery Hotspur. Mic or no mic, Fisher’s performance translated through his movements and strong delivery. Cylan Brown handles one of the more challenging roles, the intelligent but deceptive Falstaff, with great care. Trevor Guyton efficiently transitions from lighthearted playboy to the dutiful royal son right in front of my eyes.

Set Design:

Christopher Beyries’s set design consisted of a wooden stage with about three rows of steps going upward. In the middle of the stage was a regal-looking crest that was colorfully designed to look like the sun. Wooden stars and moon designs were also placed on the wooden set.

Multiple mics were set up around the portable wooden stage. The actors emerged from a makeshift tent set up in the back.

Sound Design:

Much of the music in this production distracted instead of adding to the drama. Sometimes, it would have been better if no music had been used at all. However, a sword-fighting sequence in the second half that had no music would have benefited greatly with some epic music in the background.

While the sword-fighting scenes in this were fun, and the swords looked real, safety was obviously a concern. More active swordplay would have made the scenes more engaging instead of everyone appearing to be passively going through the motions.

Review
7.6 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Story7.8
Acting7.7
Set & Design7.4
Costumes8
Entertainment7.3
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