All performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30pm
June 19th – July 13th Directed by Saul Elkin
The play is set in England in the early fifteenth century. A “Chorus” or narrator begins by speaking to the audience and reminding us that the events we will see are happening on a stage; the battles, the marches, the opposing armies have to be imagined: “Think when we speak of horses that you see them printing their proud hooves on the receiving earth.” His narration takes us from place to place throughout the play.
The political situation in England is tense. The people are recovering from two bloody civil wars and the Scots are rebelling in the north. King Henry IV has just died, and his son, the young Henry V, has assumed the throne. The new young king has to live down his wild adolescent youth, when he used to consort with drunkards and thieves at the Boar’s Head Tavern with Bardolph, Pistol, Nim, and especially Sir John Falstaff, fictitious characters Shakespeare created to be the companions and representatives of the young Prince’s undisciplined youth.
Remembering his father Henry IV dying words, which advised him in times of domestic problems to “busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels,” the young king lays claim to certain parts of France based on a very technical interpretation of ancient land laws. When the young prince, or Dauphin, of France sends Henry an insulting message in response to these claims, Henry decides to invade France, a decision that trickles down to the common people, some of the King’s former friends at the Boar’s Head tavern. As they prepare to go to war they hear of the death of Falstaff, King Henry’s closest friend.
Just before his fleet sets sail, Henry learns of a conspiracy against his life. The three traitors beg for mercy, but Henry has them executed. The English sail for France fighting their way across the country. Against incredible odds they conquer the city of Harfleur. Among the officers in King Henry’s army are men from all parts of Britain, such as Fluellen, a Welsh captain, and MacMorris, an Irish officer. As the English advance Bardolph is caught stealing from a church and is hanged at King Henry’s command.
The climax of the war comes at the famous Battle of Agincourt at which the English are outnumbered by the French five to one. The French, puffed up and proud of their superior numbers and equipment, are unprepared for Henry’s long-bows and citizen army. The night before the battle King Henry disguises himself as a common soldier and moves among the soldiers in his camp learning who they are and what they think of the great battle they must fight at dawn. Miraculously the English win the battle and the proud French must surrender.
Among Henry’s demands is the hand in marriage of Catherine, the young French princess. We meet her in two delightful scenes – one in which she receives an English lesson from her lady in waiting, and the second when Henry proposes marriage to Catherine, speaking in broken French while she responds in broken English. he speaks in broken French, and she in broken English. She accepts, peace negotiations are worked out, and the play ends happily.
We will conclude the play with the entire cast in a traditional English Jig.
The Comedy of Errors
July 24th – August 17th Directed by Steve Vaughan
Aegeon, a merchant of Syracuse, is condemned to death in Ephesus for violating the ban against travel between the two rival cities. As he is led to his execution, he tells the Duke, Solinus, that he has come to Ephesus in search of his wife and one of his twin sons, who were separated from him in a shipwreck. The other twin, who grew up with Aegeon in Syracuse, is also traveling the world in search of his brother. (The twins, we learn, are identical, and each has an identical twin slave named Dromio.) The Duke grants Aegeon a day to raise the thousand-mark ransom that would be necessary to save his life.
Coincidentally, unknown to Aegeon, his son Antipholus of Syracuse (and Antipholus’ slave Dromio) is also visiting Ephesus–where Antipholus’ missing twin, known as Antipholus of Ephesus, is a prosperous citizen of the city. Adriana, Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife, mistakes Antipholus of Syracuse for her husband and drags him home for dinner, leaving Dromio of Syracuse to stand guard at the door and admit no one. Shortly thereafter, Antipholus of Ephesus (with his slave Dromio of Ephesus) returns home and is refused entry to his own house. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse has fallen in love with Luciana, Adriana’s sister, who is appalled at the behavior of the man she thinks is her brother-in-law.
The confusion increases when a gold chain ordered by Antipholus of Ephesus is given to Antipholus of Syracuse. Antipholus of Ephesus refuses to pay for the chain (unsurprisingly, since he never received it) and is arrested for debt. His wife, seeing his strange behavior, decides he has gone mad and orders him bound and held in a cellar room. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse and his slave decide to flee the city, which they believe to be enchanted, as soon as possible–only to be menaced by Adriana and the debt officer. They seek refuge in a nearby abbey.
Adriana now begs the Duke to intervene and remove her “husband” from the abbey into her custody. Her real husband, meanwhile, has broken loose from the cellar and now comes to the Duke and levels charges against his wife. The situation is finally resolved through a series of events: Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse find their true parents and are reunited, as well as the Dromios, as long lost brothers.