Reduxion Theatre Company brings its 2013-2014 Theater In Your Lap season to a close with what promises to be a rousing production of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved works, Henry V. The play chronicles the life of the eponymous king of England and his successful conquest of France, centered around the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
“Henry V focuses on the journey of a young king who is heroic but profoundly human,” said Reduxion Managing Director Erin Woods. “He is noble but can identify with the common men who follow and fight for him. To put it in pop culture terms, Henry is the Captain America of Shakespeare’s works.”
Woods said that Shakespeare sought to honestly portray the human experience for everyone — the highborn, the low, the elderly, the young, men and women, rich and poor, the noble and the slave. In Henry V, he captures the triumph and hardships of war and the question of why we fight that has resonated throughout history.
For this production, Reduxion will take full advantage of the flexibility of its new Automobile Alley location by reconfiguring the stage from the three-quarters thrust seen in As You Like It to in-the-round for Henry V, hoping to create a more intimate setting. No one will be more than two rows from the action onstage, of which there will a great deal.
“This show packs a punch. And a broadsword. And a battle ax,” Woods said. “Safety is our No. 1 priority and necessitates that director Tyler Woods and combat choreographer Matthew Ellis rehearse how to deliver the thrill of being smack in the middle of a fulltilt live battle without any danger to our audience or performers.”
Reduxion is promoting the production as “Saving Private Ryan meets Game of Thrones.” Woods said that American audiences have embraced period dress and accents in popular fiction like never before.
“Whether it is part of historical or fantasy storytelling that is extremely popular right now, everyone is hungry for visceral human drama,” Woods said. “A sword or two doesn’t hurt either.”
Andrew Rathgeber, who stars as Henry, spent last summer studying in London at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the premier classical acting school in the English-speaking world. The 13-member company also includes Rachael Barry as Princess Katherine of France and Sam Bearer as the war hero Duke of Exeter.
Henry V will be a departure for Reduxion, as it plans to present the show in period costumes created by Jeffrey Meek, a first for the company when it comes to Shakespeare plays.
“Reduxion is known for immersion and accessibility,” Woods said. “For Henry V, we take it to the next level, not only drawing audiences into the play but into the time period as well.”