By Mary Boyle
Now in their fourth season, Voices Found Repertory, a small theatre company working primarily out of Milwaukee's Underground Collaborative in the basement of the former Grand Avenue Mall, has demonstrated a passion for performing the classics—particularly Shakespeare. After a rather bloody staging of the Bard's Titus Andronicus last season, they return with a streamlined version of the epic HENRY V, complete with intense battle scenes and a rather delightful twist to a well-told tale.
Henry V, perhaps the best known of Shakespeare's histories, is of course the story of the beloved English King's rise to the throne and his quest to conquer France after being assured he is the rightful heir to the throne, which he succeeded at against ridiculous odds in the famed Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The final play in what is known as the tetralogy, which begins with Richard II, Henry IV, Part I, and Henry IV, Part II, Henry V contains some of the Bard's most memorable and quoted lines, from "O, for a muse of fire" to "Once more into the breach, dear friends," and the famed St. Crispin's Day speech: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers."
VFR's version, directed by Alec Lachman, is radically cut to fit into a fast and furious 90 minutes which, in my humble opinion, is not enough time to do this play justice. We never see the end of the drunken knight, Falstaff, nor do we get to meet the unintelligible Scotsman, Captain Jamy, or his counterpart, the Irishman Captain Macmorris, which is one of my favorite bits in the play. I was not crazy about the Chorus being a role shared by the entire cast and some of the editing made for a bit of choppiness in the story.
On the other hand, the fight scenes are brutal and well-done and I love how the French are constantly smoking and supremely arrogant. Rebekah Farr's Dauphin in the "horse" scene is exceptionally well-played. My absolute favorite part, however, was VFR's version of the English lesson scene between the French Princess, Katherine (Caroline Fossum) and Alice, her servant. Thomas Sebald, who also played the role of the Welsh Captain, Fluellen, was cast in the role of Alice, which made for a delightfully different and hysterical scene that made me forgive any other trespasses. Also of note: A.J. Magoon as the Archbishop of Canterbury and Andy Montano as Bardolph.
Voices Found Repertory's HENRY V runs through Sunday, December 15th at the Underground Collaborative, located in the lower level of the former Grand Avenue Mall at 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee. Tickets are only $15 and may be purchased online at https://www.voicesfoundrep.com/ or at the box office.