Director Jessica Bauman delivers an updated version of Shakespeare’s history play.

Time Out New York

To get to the uncomfortable bit first: I don’t know why director Jessica Bauman insists that Into the Hazard is a new play “based on” Shakespeare’s Henry V. But Hazard is based on Henry the way croutons are based on toast: same damn thing, give or take some cuts. Bauman may be thinking of her multimedia additions, many of them darling (a TV news segment briefs us on backstory), or patting her own back for cramming all Agincourt into a six-hander. But what she has really created—I’ll say it to her face if I have to—is simply an elegant production of Henry V itself, complete with all that heady verse converting simple iambs into the plunge and sway of battle.

There is plenty of the expected modernizing: The newly minted King Henry (Nick Dillenburg) wears a hoodie to signal that he is a hip young monarch, and when we hear his dad’s advice (transplanted from Henry IV) to “busy minds with foreign quarrels,” we nod knowingly. But the resource at stake here isn’t foreign oil; it’s Bauman’s mother lode of actors. All six sit easily in the saddle, galloping through the pentameter with intensity and intelligence; even perched silently on the periphery of Christopher Akerlind’s severe set, they thrum with involvement. Dillenburg pitches his performance perfectly for the intimate space, showing us the playful pettiness that runs alongside Harry’s better qualities. And that, in the end, is what makes Hazard so heartbreakingly current. It’s not the reality-show send-up or the soldiers’ muddy camouflage. It’s how casually we recognize that the smallest men make the biggest wars. — Helen Shaw

Time Out New York / Issue 715 : Jun 11–17, 2009

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