Producing “Henry V” with only five actors (six if you count musician and occasional player Derek Trost) is an audacious undertaking, but director Matt Sciple and his energetic ensemble attack this task with engaging inventiveness.
After all, since the Chorus points out in the opening that staging a story that spans two countries and multiple battlefields will require a heady dose of suspension of disbelief, what’s the harm in adding a bit more?
Ensemble members move from role to role as they don and shrug off various costume pieces and props scattered around the stage. Each actor takes on the role of Henry in succession, beginning with Becca Hart’s feisty portrayal of an untested young royal itching for a fight, and ending with Ricardo Beaird’s humorous turn as a warrior-turned-suitor in Act V. It’s a minimalist high-wire act that uses shifting perspectives to point up core truths about the nature of leadership.
While tangled story lines bog down this production in spots, the occasional confusion is offset by incisive and clever performances. Gabriel Murphy, Meredith Kind and Victoria Pyan transition fluidly through countless roles. Hart shines in particular as the innocent Catherine and the fire-eating Dauphin, while Beaird offers up a humorously cynical Pistol. Trost provides one of the evening’s comic highlights when he’s pressed into service as a French envoy.
Sciple’s cleverly minimalist approach and a talented ensemble capably demonstrate that “Henry V” doesn’t need spectacle to pack a punch.
Who: By William Shakespeare. Directed by Matt Sciple. Produced by Theatre Pro Rata.
Where: Crane Theater, 2303 NE. Kennedy St., Mpls.
When: 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sun. plus 2 p.m. Nov. 20. Ends Nov. 20.
Tickets: $14-$41. 612-234-7135 or theatreprorata.org.