Photo by Joan Marcus
Billing in at a little under two hours, King Henry V navigates conquering France while searching for love. Playing through May 13th, Henry V is the latest production from The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit program and again shows the power of acting even with minimal staging.
The Mobile Unit program, a reinvention of Joseph Papp’s “Mobile Theater”, offers people across the New York area the opportunity to see and engage with live Shakespeare. Indeed, every year, the mobile unit reaches thousands of people at community centers, schools, correctional facilities, and even homeless shelters. Its goal is admirable and provides both the cast and viewers a chance to experience theater even in untraditional stagings. Now, the production has settled in a more traditional black box theater for the next few weeks.
As part of the program, tickets to the show are free for everyone with distribution happening 90 minutes before each show and through a TodayTix lottery.
And even though tickets are free, the production leverages its bare-bones staging to transport the audience across the Atlantic and to the world of King Henry V. With a bare bones set comprised of a rug, the show leverages blue and red color coding to switch between British and French players. Although confusing at times, it ultimately works out in helping leverage the small cast to portray such a wide range of characters.
The production also features thrilling acting. In particular the relationship between King Henry (played by Zenzi Williams) and Princess Catherine (played by Carolyn Rettig) is as captivating as it is hilarious. Williams plays Henry as a pensive, partially insecure leader with a desire to both find love and create a grad empire. As Henry strives for love with Princess Catherine, he faces a language barrier as the two struggle to converse between English and French. Along with the rest of the cast, the team has indeed created another beautiful production of a classic Shakespearean work.
Henry V runs through May 13th at the Shiva Theater within the Public. Information on tickets for the show can be found here (https://www.publictheater.org/Tickets/Calendar/PlayDetailsCollection/17-18-Season/Mobile-Unit-Henry-V/)