It's incredibly ambitious to tackle a play like Henry V as a directorial debut, so kudos should definitely be given to Leeton's Jake Speer for handling it so well.
It would probably be sensible to direct a smaller play with less characters, but then again, good theatre is rarely built on the sensible option.
The play opens, as so many Shakespearean works do, with our guide encouraging us to let our imagination fill the production values and to overlook any stumbles.
It's unnecessary, but certainly appreciated.
The guide returns throughout the play to elaborate on scene transitions and ground us in the time period, which is certainly a burdensome task, but Hilary Park does an admirable job as Chorus.
This is not to single out any actor as the entire cast performs solidly, especially in the humorous elements of the play.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...King Henry
The actors bounce off each other really well and all seem to be having fun, which can definitely be felt and reciprocated by the audience.
At times it seems the troupe might be better suited to out-and-out comedy rather than the tragicomic blend that Henry V offers.
This is only because, unfortunately, the troupe does such a good job at capturing the comic that it somewhat undercuts the scenes where they take a turn for the heartfelt.
As an example, the famous scene in which Henry goes full 'Undercover Boss' with his men and has to struggle with the knowledge that he's asking these soldiers to die for him falls a little flat, but the emotional heft is quickly brought back once Speer is alone on the stage.
One of the wisest choices in the production is Jake Speer casting himself as Henry, as he's inarguably the strongest actor in the group.
His monologues are powerful and his anguish at the decisions he's forced to make fills the theatre whenever he gets the opportunity to share it. I only wish he had more of those opportunities.
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I'd encourage the cast and crew to take some more license, push the limits a little further in future productions, no matter what they may be.
For now, Henry V was an excellent finale for the Roxy Theatre, and I look forward to seeing what this band of brothers creates next.
A ticket to the show was provided to The Irrigator by The Leeton Roxy Community Theatre.
- Cai Holroyd is a new reporter to the area and this experience was his first time at the Roxy Theatre.
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