restricted access Henry IV, Part One, and: Measure for Measure (review)
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Henry IV, Part One Presented by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, Drew University Madison, NJ. May 30–June 24, 2012. Directed by Joseph Discher. Sets by Jonathan Wentz. Costumes by Paul H. Canada. Lighting by Matthew E. Adelson. Sound by Rich Dionne. Fights by Michael Rossmy. With Derek Wilson (Prince Henry), John Ahlin (Sir John Falstaff), Brent Harris (King Henry the Fourth), Jon Barker (Hotspur), John Little (Earl of Westmoreland), Conan McCarty (Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester), Glenn Beatty (Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland), Izzie Steele (Lady Percy), Patrick Toon (Bardolph), Doug West (Lord Edmund Mortimer), Drew Dix (Owen Glendower), Maxon Davis (Douglas), Robert Grant (Sir Walter Blunt), Cliff Miller (Lord John of Lancaster), Jeffrey M. Bender (Ned Poins), and others.
Measure for Measure Presented by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, Drew University Madison, NJ. August 8–26, 2012. Directed by Bonnie J. Monte. Sets by Bonnie J. Monte and Brian Ruggaber. Costumes by Paul H. Canada. Lighting by Steven Rosen. Sound by Karen Graybash. Stage management by Christine Whalen. With Bruce Turk (Duke Vincentio), Erin Partin (Isabella), Sean Mahan (Angelo), James Knight (Claudio), Greg Jackson (Lucio), Richard Bourg (Escalus), Lindsay Smiling (Provost), Katie Macnichol (Mariana), Raphael Nash Thompson (Pompey), Ben Stirling (Elbow, Barnardine), Darren Matthias (Friar Thomas, Abhorson), Craig Bazan (Froth), Rachel Fox (Julietta), Jean Burton Walker (Mistress Overdone), and others.

The 2012 season of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey marked the fiftieth year of the company and the fortieth year of its residency at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre of Drew University. To open this momentous season, director Joseph Discher chose to imbue his interpretation of Henry IV, Part One with the pomp, circumstance, gravity, and pathos befitting such an occasion. In what may be considered a radical decision in this age of infatuation with the modernization of Shakespeare’s works, Discher created an interpretation that was distinctly traditional in its approach and presentation. Eschewing grandiose readings of the text and hyperbolic inflation of subplots, Discher shaped his vision around the characters of Hal, Falstaff, and Henry IV, analyzing the development of Hal as both a man and a prince while he struggles to shed the influence of a wanton, intemperate youth and give full rein to his insatiable desire for power and advancement. [End Page 626]

Though Discher’s interpretation was conservative, it took liberties with both costuming and staging in order to avoid portraying a single era with any historical accuracy. Instead, Discher blended several periods of British dress and architecture from the 1400s through the 1600s to create a timeless vision. The costumes were distinctly late-medieval, and served as badges of rank: King and loyal courtiers were robed in lavish swathes of gold and blue velvet and silk; Hal and his companions in rougher linens and leathers of earthen hues; the rebels Mortimer, Worcester, and Northumberland in steely, woolen grays; Hotspur in an embroidered doublet of gaudy greens; and Glendower and Douglas in the traditional Welsh and Scotch habits of cloak and kilt. These costumes remained unaltered throughout the course of the production, save for the martial preparations and battle scenes of acts four and five, in which the loyalists donned full suits of mail and shirts of red and blue, emblazoned with the king’s coat of arms.

While the costuming was medieval, the set evoked images of Tudor London. The main stage was flanked on either side by ramps leading down to a small dais that served as a secondary playing area. Toward the rear of the stage was built a two-story, Tudor arcaded balcony, reminiscent of those that encircled the inner courtyards of Elizabethan taverns. Made of wood, with columns that stretched from the floor to the rafters, the balcony had two wings running to doors at stage left and right. Railings ran between the columns and arched sections of wood spanned the upper spaces between the verticals. Narrow panels of stone with arrow slits were slid into place from the wings to help define King Henry’s castle, in between which was an open expanse of...


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