Friday, March 13, 2015

HENRY IV Part One Antaeus Top Notch

Antaeus Theatre Company is responsible for some of the best theatre productions in Los Angeles.  Not the best in small theatres, but the best in town and right up there with the so called 'professional' houses in the country.  This company is brave and with the influx of trained and enthusiastic actors, directors and technicians, the approach each project with a can do attitude that cannot be stifled.   I preface this review with the "I heart 99" graphic to emphasize that this company is in danger ..  The Actors Equity Association is in the process of attempting to gut the hearts of small theatre in Los Angeles with requirements that will be impossible for theatres like Antaeus to survive.  Suffice it to say, that I encourage audience members and subscribers to Antaeus to call the AEA Offices to see if you can get a straight answer regarding why this issue is being brought to a referendum when word has it that the gutting has already begun. 

They will tell you that professional actors must be paid!  They want 'minimum wage' to come to their members in these small theatres where funding is already stretched to the limit and box office barely fills in for expenses like rent and utilities.  "Minimum wage" (currently $9.00 an hour) doesn't sound like much.  However, when you factor in all of the peripheral fees and taxes and insurance and such that are tacked on.. it makes it difficult to meet expenses.  As it stands now, actors are paid a small stipend, but still support the theatre with dues that help.  The play's the thing. Ask any member of this cast (The Rogues!) if they do it for the money and you'll hear a resounding laugh.  The love of theatre and this company is what keeps it alive.  

This rant is about educating the audience because it will sound as though the union is not asking for all that much.  If fact, it's an attempt to kill small theatre in the guise of getting actors 'a living wage!'  Which, of course, will never happen in tiny venues like Antaeus.   It's about the love of the theatre.  The love of acting. The love of 'giving' a great performance.

Now.. about this play.  
Henry IV Part One by William Shakespeare

Directed by Michael Murray

Antaeus Theatre Company’s current presentation, Henry IV Part One is one of the Bard’s lesser known plays.  The Histories are not all that interesting to me, but this one features James Sutorius as King Henry, Romon de Ocampo as Hal,  Gregory Itzin well padded as Falstaff and Joe Holt as Hotspur, easily kicking the play into high gear. These players are The Rogues. (Antaeus double casts, so seeing the show twice can be a revealing experience.)     Indeed, with doubling of The Rogues, this cast of twelve creating over 25 characters brings the show to life brilliantly on Francois-Pierre Couture bare bones stage.  This may be the ultimate iteration of 99 Seat theatre productions in Los Angeles.  Having taken over the little store front from Deaf West several years ago, this band of professionals attacks the classics with gusto. 

Itzin’s Falstaff brings the show to life as we learn of the trials and tribulations of King Henry IV, balancing his disdain for his son, The Prince of Wales, Hal (later to become Henry V) cavorting with the rowdy Falstaff and his gang.  The threat of war is raging in the North with fiery Hotspur always angry and rejecting Henry's attempts at Peace. 

The fine professional cast, especially the vivacious and at once dowdy Desirèe Mee Jung as Lady Percy and "a carrier,"  bring this Shakespeare to life. 

Henry IV Part One

By William Shakespeare

Antaeus Theatre

5112 Lankershim Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 91601

Thursdays through Sundays

Closes May 3, 2015

Tickets and Information:

818 506 1983


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