In 2007 I spent a whirlwind month traveling with Chapman University on their annual London Theatre Tour. During that time I saw at least one theatre production a day, sometimes two. At the time I was not an avid blogger, but I did keep a written journal of my experiences as I saturated myself in the theatrical world of London.
I remember one play in particular: The Taming of the Shrew at the Old Vic. The production, presented by an all male ensemble, shed new light on the play for me. While maintaining the inherent comedic humor of the play, I found the transformation of Kate from a shrew to an obedient woman tragic and devastating. I thought, "this is how it should be played," and have compared every production I have seen to this one ever since. Little did I know that I would return to see this theatre company again in action.
Last night I was privileged to see Propeller's production of Henry V at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. This production is edgy, fresh, and energetic. Unlike the Taming I saw a few years ago, the women roles served merely as comic relief, but perhaps that is unsurprising considering the way in which Shakespeare crafted this play around the lives of soldiers.
Duguld Bruce-Lockhart plays a convincing, yet unsympathetic king. I found his vocal quality and energy thrilling. However, I had difficulty connecting to his character. The best thing about Propeller seems to be the ensemble as a whole, rather than individual performances. Each ensemble member pulls his own weight through song, dance, feats of strength, and community. In true "band-of-brothers" fashion, the chorus became the ultimate story-tellers.
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