SHAW FESTIVAL’S HENRY V IS HIGH CONCEPT BUT EMOTIONALLY REMOTE

This is the first Shakespeare play the Shaw Festival has produced since its founding in 1962.

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By William Shakespeare, directed by Kevin Bennett and Tim Carroll. Until Oct. 28 in the Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre, 10 Queen’s Parade, Niagara-on-the-Lake. shawfest.com or 1-800-511-7429

This is the first Shakespeare play the Shaw Festival has produced since its founding in 1962. The impetus to tackle the Bard comes from artistic director, Tim Carroll, best known for his “original practices” Shakespeare productions (that is, staging the plays as they would have been staged in the Elizabethan era).

In this case and differently, he’s giving us Shakespeare through the lens of Shaw: the production is set in the context of and as a critical comment on the First World War, which GBS famously opposed. Carroll co-directs with Kevin Bennett, who helmed a divisive production of the contemporary play The Madness of George III at Shaw last season.

What they’ve created has the emerging hallmarks of Carroll’s work at Shaw: a high-concept, gamelike structure that, while intended to open up the audience-performer relationship (Carroll calls it “two-way theatre”), comes across as brainy, intriguing and emotionally remote.

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