On Stage: Henry V

Yadda Yadda Yadda the Wife comes to me and says

“Bring the cooler in from the back porch. We’re going to Shakespeare in the Park.”

“Uh, I’m pretty sure we did that last week.”

“That was Henry IV. This week is Henry V.”

“I’m pretty sure our marriage contract only specifies one Shakespeare outing per year.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re wrong. Anyway, you can’t go see Henry IV and not see Henry V. That would be like seeing The Avengers and not seeing The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

“Curse your brilliant logic. Very well, I’ll get the cooler.”

“And fill it with soda and ice. And get some water bottles. And two bottles of wine. And make some sandwiches. And cut up some fruit and veggies. And don’t forget we need to leave early to find a parking spot and a decent spot on the lawn.”

“There’s not a Henry VI is there?”

And so it was that the RRoy family once again made the trek to Forest Park for the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis production of “Henry V.” The original plan was to go on Thursday night when it wouldn’t be so crowded but in typical St. Louis fashion it rained all afternoon so we punted. That left us with two options: Saturday or Sunday. There was once again rain in the forecast for Sunday leaving Saturday as our only dry option.

poster-henry-iv-v-webBut Saturday they were doing a double-feature of both Henrys, which meant the one we needed to see would take the stage later than usual which meant we would be out later than usual. Add in the usual every-idiot-in-St.-Louis-goes-to-Forest-Park-on-Saturdays and parking is going to be a nightmare. Fortunately, the Art Museum recently opened a new parking garage and parking there would be a mere $5 if you were an art museum member, which of course we are because, well, we’re classy.

We spent the afternoon at the pool thinking that if we wore The Son out swimming he would sit in a post-pool coma during three hours of Shakespeare. We arrived at Shakespeare Glen just as Henry’s dad was on his deathbed. The place was packed as we feared it would be so we set up camp in back and waited. There was an hour intermission between shows and once VI ended and people started leaving we were able to move down to spot with a clear view.

I’m sitting in my lawn chair and I start to read the synopsis in the program and for once it’s kind of making sense to me.

“This seems familiar. I’ve seen this before, haven’t I? There’s a movie version with Kenneth Branagh, right?”

“Yes. We own it. You’ve seen it many times.”

“Yeah, I remember it. He makes a big speech that’s famous, right? I like Kenneth Branagh. He directed Thor, you know.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Stan Lee and William Shakespeare have a lot in common, you know.”

“Don’t you need to take Andrew to the concession stand and get him a hot dog?”

So The Son and I went to the concession stand where they were sadly out of kettle corn but they did have frozen Strawberry daiquiris in a commemorative glass and I figured the commemorative glass would score me some points and the liquor would make the evening more tolerable.

The show started and everyone did a fine job although I missed Falstaff. The story was much easier to follow but still, you know, Shakespeare. When it was over we joined to mob trying to get into the art museum parking garage. I made the mistake of thinking the stairs would be quicker than waiting for the elevator but did not factor in the difficulty/weight of a cooler-with-wheels when going down four flights of stairs. Wheels aren’t much good on grass but they’re even more useless on stairs.

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.





One response to “On Stage: Henry V

  1. Your nephew Alan performed the St. Crispian speech for the drama dept’s Shakespeare in the Park his Senior year. Yes, shy, quiet Alan. He did a great job!

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