Nestruck has given full notes to both productions.
Breath of Kings: Rebellion (Richard II and Henry IV Part 1)
Breath of Kings: Redemption (Henry IV Part 2 and Henry V)
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.