|Henry VIII (Allyn Burrows) and Cardinal Wolsey (Robert Walsh)|
Photo by Stratton McCrady
This has been a particularly rich and Shakespeare-filled few months for me.
- In London in October, I saw a memorable production of "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Old Vic starring James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave: Going Gaga Over My Trip to Europe
- I saw a preview performance of the current Lincoln Center production of "Macbeth," with Ethan Hawke in the title role and my good friend, Jonny Orsini, in the role of Malcolm.
- I took in and reviewed the F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's production of the same play: Blog Review of "Macbeth"
- I was privileged to catch the magic currently being created in NYC by "Twelfth Night" starring Mark Rylance (More details to follow)
- Finally, yesterday afternoon, I was transported to the court of King Henry VIII by the incredibly talented ensemble of Actors' Shakespeare Project.
Featuring ASP company members:
Allyn Burrows* - King Henry VIII
Johnnie McQuarley - Cromwell, Commoner
Bobbie Steinbach* - Fool
Michael Forden Walker*- Norfolk
Robert Walsh* - Cardinal Wolsey
Ross MacDonald* - Lovell, Surveyor
Craig Mathers* - Buckingham, Cardinal Campeius, Dr. Butts
Kathryn Myles - Anne Boleyn
Omar Robinson - Chamberlain
Each of the actors commanded the stage and the Elizabethan language as if they owned them. Standing out among this stellar cast were the following:
- Bobbie Steinbach opens and closes the proceedings and oversees all of the intervening drama as the Fool. She is magnificent in this role, mingling mirth, gravitas and the folk wisdom that characterizes most of Shakespeare's Fools.
- In his scarlet robes that billow about him and behind him - and yet fail to cover his devious machinations - Robert Walsh is the very embodiment of Cardinal Wolsey. The lighting and make-up serve to present him to the audience as almost alabaster in complexion, belying the darkness of his soul and of his intentions. His performance was riveting and flawless, and was particularly moving as he devolved from righteous hauteur to despair at having been literally defrocked.
- Allyn Burrows' King Henry is the glue that holds this production together. Lacking the characteristic physicality and gargantuan appetites that we have come to associate with Henry VIII, Burrows relied on his considerable acting tools to create an imposing figure. What he lacked in girth he more than made up for in grit and grandeur. His Henry is both a troubled and sympathetic figure.
|Queen Katherine (Tamara Hickey), Cardinal Campeius (Craig Mathers)|
and Cardinal Wolsey (Robert Walsh)
Photo by Stratton McCrady
- As Queen Katherine, Tamara Hickey projects the fragile beauty of a china doll, yet the force of her will and her courage in the face of her husband's rejection speak much louder and more eloquently than her frail frame. In this role, she is the very soul of both regalness and vulnerability. Her performance in this role is deeply touching.
- Craig Mathers is protean in the breadth of the emotions he portrays in the many roles that he undertakes so convincingly in this drama.
This is a theatre company and a production worthy of your support and applause. Give yourself and some special friends and family members an early Christmas gift; buy some tickets and feast on Henry VIII!