2016 Capital Fringe Review: ‘H5x7’

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Did you miss the Henriad this past spring at BAM? Or the Hollow Crown? Do you find Shakespeare inaccessible?

Barabbas Theatre can help.

Taking a cue from the play’s Chorus, urging the audience to assist the players by imagining the momentous events of the Hundred Years’ War, Barabbas founder Kevin O’Connell, who also directed the piece, presents a loving, witty, and faithful adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V.

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In this abbreviated version, all 30 characters are played with aplomb by only seven actors, who you’ll find “rehearsing” swordfights and pratfalls in the open as you enter the space. This is in every way an ensemble piece, and while there are absolutely some standout performances, the work of the entire cast is very fine. Lizzi Albert, Kevin Dykstra, Vince Eisenson, Peter Holdway, Rachel Manteuffel, Elana Michelle, and Seth Rosenke all switch seamlessly among their multiple characters, aided mostly by the use of changing of hats (it’s really fun).

Lizzi Alpert, as the Chorus, is the first to welcome us into the space, before taking several energetic turns as a variety of soldiers and nobles, others of whom are rounded out by the rest of the cast. Vince Eisenson is solid as both the cocky King Henry of England (and he can juggle!) and the French Dauphin, whose father, King Louis, is played by Elana Michelle – who also plays the French Princess Katherine, to hilarious effect.

Veteran British actor Peter Holdway positively shines as Captain Fluellen (it’s worth going to just for all his accents) and the Archbishop of Canterbury, among others.

Seth Rosenke plays alongside him excellently as Pistol, particularly in one hilarious scene where he has to eat a raw leek, and Rachel Manteuffel is lovely as Katherine’s maid Alice.

Kevin Dykstra rounds out the cast as Exeter, Bardolph, and Gower. O’Connell’s direction, assisted by Julia Morrissey and Elena Day, is almost cinematic at times, which fits the pacing of the double-, triple-, and quadruple-casting well, and is easy to watch.

All performances of H5 x 7 are captioned, and this is also great help to audience members who are more unfamiliar with Shakespeare who may want to follow along.

H5x7 is Barabbas’s 2nd show, after their inaugural production of Never Never at the 2015 festival. Definitely don’t miss this one.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

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H5 x 7 is playing through July 24, 2016 at Gallaudet University’s Eastman Studio Theatre – 800 Florida Avenue, NE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

LINKS:
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.

Read the preview of ‘H5x7.’

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1551.gif BEST OF THE 2016 CAPITAL FRINGE!

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Emily Gilson
Emily Gilson makes art. A DC-based actor, rescue kitty mommy, historian, and professional Christmas caroler, she loves all things nerdy, British, chocolately, and caffeinated, and moonlights as a front-of -house staff person and walking tour manager at Ford’s Theatre when not creating things. A native Washingtonian, Emily holds a double BA in Drama Studies and Medieval History and Literature from Purchase College, SUNY, has studied with the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and the Theatre Lab, and is a 2012 alumna of the Overtures musical theatre intensive at Signature Theatre. 2015 will mark her 3rd season as a company member with 42nd Street Singers, a costumed caroling group comprised of local musical theatre and opera talent. She thinks it would be awesome to be able to time travel and is entirely unashamed of having seen 'Phantom of the Opera' – the first show she ever saw - roughly once every decade. www.emilygilsonactor.com