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William Shakespeare's

Breath of Kings: Rebellion

May 30th - September 24thTom Patterson TheatreTicket Info
Generally Positive Reviews based on 9 Critics
  • top 77% of shows in the 2016 season
9 Reviews

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This is a listing for the 2016 season. For the current 2023 shows click here.

Milwaukee Journal Sentine - Mike Fischer

Ranking Stratford Festival 2016...

Mike Fischer at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saw 10 shows and has ranked them, less as a reductive prescription than as an invitation to conversation.
1) Macbeth: “one’s deepest and darkest thoughts emerge into what little light there ever is; watching this world unfold, one feels an unsettling, primeval connection to characters who are both a millennium old (this production is set in eleventh-century Scotland) and a reflection of ourselves and our neighbors.”
2) All My Sons: “…marvel anew at how much his play still has to say to us and the way we live now…”
3) A Chorus Line: from the tryout at the top of the show to the symbolic, outward facing circle the ensemble creates near journey’s end, we’re reminded that “love’s what we’ll remember.”
4) Bunny: ” I’m not pulling punches when predicting a rousing success for this darkly funny and also wrenching account of a woman (beautifully played by Maev Beaty) in her late thirties, looking back on a lonely life in which her need to be needed results in numerous sexual relationships.”

Read Full Review08/02/2016

Broadway World - Lauren Gienow

Absolutely thrilling to watch

Although each production can stand alone, there is value in seeing them in order and watching the evolution of one kingdom into another…and then another…Geraint Wyn Davies is delightful as Sir John Falstaff–a character with great charm, but questionable morals, who has become somewhat of a father figure to Prince Hal. Wyn Davies excels at highlighting all of Falstaff’s comedic moments, while also giving him a beautiful depth, which allows for very moving moments–like his thoughtful soliloquy about the nature of “honour”, and the powerfully sad moment in REDEMPTION when he realizes that his relationship with the new King is forever changed.

Read Full Review07/06/2016

Good Tickle Brain - Mya Gosling

Four Shakespeare's for the price of two

I have been deeply immersed in Shakespeare’s history plays for decades now, so I am completely incapable of figuring out how accessible and understandable this production is to people unfamiliar with the plays and the history behind it. I thought that Abbey’s adaptation was very clear in highlighting the important beats of the story as it unfolded, but at this point I could see these plays in an entirely foreign language and still know what was going on…It is (understandably) very rare to be able to see all four of these plays performed in the same season with the same cast, which is a pity as they are inextricably linked together. The Breath of Kings adaptation is a great way to see them all placed within their proper context, without having to sit through twelve straight hours of history plays.

Read Full Review07/13/2016

The Bard and the Boards - Robyn Godfrey

Rebellion and Redemption: Ambition...

the pace clipping along at cinematic speed, and may just be the ticket to opening new (read: teenage) audiences to the charms of the Bard…It is not strictly necessary to see both Rebellion and Redemption, as either stands finely on its own; though if pressed for time I might recommend seeing Rebellion simply because it is the only version of Richard II to hit Stratford stages in almost twenty years, and Tom Rooney is such a fine actor in it. But to get the full dividends from the efforts of this ambitious adaptation, its directors and its excellent, nimble cast, try to see them both, and in order.

Read Full Review07/13/2016

Reid Between the Lines - Robert Reid

Breathing Life into a Trio of...

The theatrical distillation unfolds like a made-for-TV action movie…Such an ambitious project would have been seriously compromised without a solid foundation of actors. Rooney is utterly captivating as the impetuously mercurial Richard in the first half of Rebellion. He delivers a beautifully modulated, self-contained, multi-layered, bravura performance. We hang on his every word until his murdered body is rolled out of a funeral shroud in dramatic fashion….Rooney reappears as a charming Justice Shallow in the first half of Redemption.
A tip to the wary: It goes without saying that it’s always worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the play before seeing a Shakespearean production. This is particularly true of Breath of Kings which in some instances plays loose and free with Shakespeare’s texts. A little prep homework will pay off handsomely.

Read Full Review07/13/2016

Stratford Festival Reviews - Natalie Dewan

5 Reasons to commit 6 hours to...

There is a whole lot that is enjoyable, interesting, and important about these two plays – more than enough to dedicate six hours of your time….The four plays in the cycle are often performed individually (particularly Henry V, which Stratford last produced in 2012), but they suffer for it. Condensing all four plays into two brings into sharp relief the complex relationships that run through the cycle, clarifying the often-complicated plot and heightening the emotional stakes. [“Breath of Kings: Rebellion” and “Breath of Kings: Redemption can bee seen individually]

Read Full Review06/23/2016

The Globe and Mail - J. Kelly Nestruck

The Henriad in a hurry

Nestruck has given full notes to both productions.
Breath of Kings: Rebellion (Richard II and Henry IV Part 1)
3.5 stars

Breath of Kings: Redemption (Henry IV Part 2 and Henry V)
2 stars

Breath of Kings: Rebellion
Richard, often depicted as capricious or inconsistent, here seems decisive and simply eager to avoid the pointless spilling of noble blood. And Henry appears more of an unjust usurper than ever when he returns from his banishment early to oppose Richard. This gives stronger reasons for the rebellions that Henry IV faces during his rule in the following plays – first led by the Earl of Northumberland (Nigel Shawn Williams) and his son Hotspur (Jonathan Sousa), then by the Archbishop of York (Carly Street again). Indeed, in the second part of Breath of Kings, the rebels wear masks of Rooney’s face – as if they are medieval forerunners of the Anonymous movement.

If Rooney’s remarkable performance anchors the first half of Breath of Kings: Rebellion, Jonathan Sousa commands the second with his spirited, youthful portrayal of the rebel Hotspur.

Breath of Kings: Rebellion climaxes in one of the best battles scenes seen at Stratford, choreographed by John Stead. First, due to the gender-blind casting that (along with the diverse casting) pervades and enlivens the production, we get a fantastic all-female duel: Carly Street, a delight in all of her roles, having great fun as the scarred, screaming Scottish Earl of Douglas and mowing down Irene Poole’s poor Sir Walter Blunt.

Read Full Review06/24/2016

The Toronto Star - Karen Fricker

Abbey reshapes these plays for...

Purists who might worry that the cuts to Shakespeare in this production are a gesture of dumbing down can reassure themselves that the original plays continue to exist between the covers of millions of volumes worldwide and will doubtless by staged again by Stratford itself before too long. What’s so exciting to see here is the sense of engagement and adventurousness by Abbey in reshaping these plays for contemporary sensibilities, and the confidence that the festival has shown in him and in Cushman and Mengesha, each directing at Stratford for only the second time.

Read Full Review06/23/2016

The Stratford Beacon Herald - Laura Cudworth

Superior production in two-part...

There are terrific performances in both plays worth seeing. Tom Rooney routinely turns in stellar performances but even by his standards his turn as Richard II in Rebellion is something special. It is an acting master class. His range is infinite…Araya Mengesha is a perfect bruised rogue as Hal, drinking his life away with Falstaff. He’s always up for a good joke but there are wounds close to the surface and once in a while we get a peek.

Read Full Review06/22/2016

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