Friday, September 18, 2009


A year or so ago the Oregon Shakespeare Festival did a survey of members, essentially asking if we would still like to see seldom-produced plays such as Henry VIII. The membership said yes. So did Weisenheimer, figuring if not at OSF, then where and when will we ever see them? Indeed even at OSF, an organization most likely to produce these plays, they're rarely seen. The current staging of Henry VIII is just the fourth since the festival opened for business in 1935, and is the first since 1984 when Seattle favorite Laurence Ballard had the role of Cardinal Wolsey.

The 2009 staging, directed by John Sipes, is a feast for the eyes and ears. The costumes are gorgeous, and performances solid all around. Vilma Silva, a multiple Wisey Award nominee and best supporting actress in 2008, is especially strong as Queen Katherine of Aragon, cast aside by the king for not bearing male heirs, and because the younger Anne Bullen (Christine Albright) happened along to a ball. Anthony Heald is appropriately conniving as Cardinal Wolsey. (That's Silva and Heald in the  festival photo at right.)

As well done as it is, as a play Henry VIII really doesn't go anywhere, and takes nearly three hours to not get there. We weren't all that jazzed about Elijah Alexander in the title role. He's not the Henry body type, but mainly he wasn't so kingly and in charge as we have come to expect our monarchs to be.

OSF has completed the Shakespeare canon three times. Now they even have a bard scorecard you can fill in. When you complete your personal canon you can get a certificate. I'm happy to check off Henry VIII, and can wait another 25 years before seeing it again.

1 comment:

Sweetie the Official Scorer said...

Silva and Heald: moving. Costumes: pretty. Casting/direction for Henry VIII: WWTT? Mulled wine: yummy. 'Nuff said.