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Isherwood praises the Festival’s Shakespeare productions: “Henry V“: one of the finest Shakespeare productions from Mr. McAnuff. “Cymbeline“: a madcap mash-up of Shakespearean elements. “Much Ado About Nothing“: A sustained sense of boisterous humor pervades Mr. Newton’s production.
“As his personal exit music (although he will return to direct), the perennial bad boy McAnuff — one of the globe’s most interesting interpreters of a populist brand of Shakespeare — has staged a visual climax of most delicious ambivalence.”
Gerard, the chief U.S. drama critic for Bloomberg News, writes about several Stratford productions in this critical round up. He likes Henry V, Cymbeline, Pirates and Hirsch. He’s less fond of 42nd St. and dismisses Wanderlust as “a total misfire.” Read more about Wanderlust’s mixed reviews HERE
“I came to the conclusion that the stately pageantry of the play as a whole and the emotionally distant portrayal of the king didn’t mesh well, because they didn’t provide enough of a contrast the one to the other….Krohn is a good enough actor and McAnuff a good enough director that I’m going to give them another chance in August ” Scroll down past his review of The War of 1812.
“The show looks good; the battles are exciting and the costumes medievally gorgeous…Bethany Jillard and Deborah Hay do charming work as the princess and her bilingual chaperone…Henry is played by Aaron Krohn…He speaks his lines intelligently and intelligibly, but that’s about all that happens.”
“It’s somehow fitting that Des McAnuff’s penultimate production as artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival should contain battlefield reminiscences of things that didn’t go quite according to plan.”
“Although Krohn handles the verse with an ease not always evident among his fellow cast members, his characterization is tentative and unfinished…nuggets among the performances [include] Randy Hughson…Tom Rooney…Ben Carlson.”
“…it serves as a perfect textbook study of what he’s done right and what he’s done wrong in the past five years…Without a strong directorial vision or a clearly focused Henry, the show indeed turns into an exercise in sound and fury, signifying very little, if not actually nothing.”
“McAnuff’s production underscores the paradoxes and ambivalences of warfare…McAnuff doesn’t flinch from presenting the least compromising moral passages in the text, such as Henry’s ordering the execution of French prisoners — a scene that eerily recalls the Holocaust.”