Friday, June 26, 2009

Wooing of the Highest Order

For those seeking a little romance on a summer night, you have only a few chances left to see "Henry V" presented by Richmond Shakespeare Company in Agecroft's courtyard. Yes, "Henry V" is one of the history plays, and yes, it deals largely with one of England's important battles with France, but the play ends with Henry's lovely and terribly romantic wooing of Katherine. Whether you're watching with a significant someone or nursing a broken heart, you really can't help but be moved by the sincerity of Henry as he tries to convince Kate of his love; it's clumsy wooing and it's absolutely beguiling. What woman wouldn't be won over?

"And while thou livest, dear Kate, take a fellow of plain and uncoined constancy; for he perforce must do thee right, because he hath not the gift to woo in other places; for these fellows of infinite tongue, that can rhyme themselves into ladies' favours, they do always reason themselves out again."

If romance isn't enough of an incentive, there are several outstanding performances worth seeing. Phillip James Brown is back as Henry and as powerful as last year. Joseph Carlson as Pistol is a force of nature, at turns lustful, playful squeezing his wife, and then distraught when he learns that she is dead. But my favorite, again, was Brandon Crowder as Dauphin. Has a Richmond actor ever been so completely captivating to watch every second he is on stage? Even when others are speaking, his reactions, his gestures, his malleable face provide the most compelling kind of entertainment.

But take my word for it, the romance is what will stay with you. Or maybe that's just me.

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