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A Review of Lantern Theater Company’s Henry V

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Ben Dibble as Henry in Lantern Theater Company's production of HENRY V (2013). Photo by Paola Nogueras.
Ben Dibble as Henry in Lantern Theater Company's production of HENRY V (2013). Photo by Paola Nogueras.

Why would someone who isn’t a fan of Shakespeare (meaning me, don’t judge) go see a production of Henry V? Two words: Ben Dibble. Yes, acclaimed Philadelphia actor Ben Dibble got me to go see Henry V, a three hour historical Shakespeare play. What did I learn? That Ben Dibble was one of many amazing elements in this production.

The Lantern Theater Company has done an unbelievably stellar casting job with this production. I knew as soon as Krista Apple-Hodge finished her opening lines as the Chorus, that I was really in for a treat. She effortlessly commanded the audience’s attention and steered the story forward. Jake Blouch had the entire theater clutching their sides with laughter as Pistol. David Bardeen, Mark Cairns, K.O. DelMarcelle, Matt Tallman, and Mal Whyte took on each character with incredible energy and charisma. And of course, Dibble was an inspiring Henry (as if that was even going to be a question). Shakespeare isn’t something that can be consumed passively, unless you happen to be some kind of English lit expert who has everything memorized and analyzed. So, it’s helpful to have an expressive cast and animated direction that can assist the average audience member in figuring out what all is going on.

One of the aspects that I particularly enjoy about Lantern Theater Company, is that it does productions in a smaller theater, and yet with the same caliber of talent (in all areas of production) as the larger ones in the area. I like being in an intimate theater setting; there’s something special about that experience. For Henry V, I felt transported back in time. I don’t think it would have felt that way, had I been in some standard proscenium arch theater with several hundred other people.

There’s only one real criticism I have for this production, and it is truly minor in the grand scheme of such an excellent show. During certain scenes, there was an echo effect applied. At first, I actually wondered if there was something wrong with my ears. Eventually, I realized it was only happening during the castle scenes. I understand why it was done, but at the end of the day it was just distracting. But really, that’s my only complaint.

Ben Dibble as Henry, Mark Cairns as Williams, Jake Blouch as Court, and Matt Tallman as Bates in Lantern Theater Company's production of HENRY V (2013). Photo by Paola Nogueras.
Ben Dibble as Henry, Mark Cairns as Williams, Jake Blouch as Court, and Matt Tallman as Bates in Lantern Theater Company's production of HENRY V (2013). Photo by Paola Nogueras.

Whether you’re just a Ben Dibble fan girl like me, or an actual Shakespeare fan, or just looking for a entertaining night out, Henry V makes for an excellent night at the theater.

Henry V runs now through April 14, 2013. Tickets are $20 – $38 and are available online at lanterntheater.org or by calling the Lantern Box Office at 215-829-0395. $10 student rush tickets are available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only. Additional discounts are available for seniors, groups of 10 or more, and current/former members of the U.S. military. Lantern Theater Company is located at St. Stephen’s Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets in Center City Philadelphia.