In today’s Wall Street Journal I report on my recent visit to Chicago, where I saw Chicago Shakespeare‘s production of Henry IV and the
Court Theatre‘s revival of Peter Shaffer’s Lettice and Lovage. Both are smashing:
Next month Chicago Shakespeare Theater takes “Henry IV,” staged by Barbara Gaines, the company’s artistic director, to Stratford-upon-Avon, the Bard’s home town, where it will be performed as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s year-long RSC Complete Works Festival. In preparation for that trip, Chicago Shakespeare is presenting a month-long run of “Henry IV” on its home turf. I rank it among the best Shakespeare productions I’ve seen in recent years, though it will be interesting to see how Ms. Gaines’ no-nonsense approach fares with English critics, most of whom seem to prefer their Shakespeare smothered in political sauce and dished up with a garnish of gimmickry….
Patricia Hodges is best known for having replaced Mary Tyler Moore two seasons ago in Neil Simon’s “Rose’s Dilemma,” an ungrateful task that she brought off with the utmost panache. She is no less satisfying in “Lettice and Lovage,” investing her larger-than-life part with a vibrant, stage-filling physicality that pulls laughter out of you like a magnet. Ms. Reiter is equally good as Lotte, the mousy bureaucrat who unexpectedly finds in Lettice a kindred spirit. I don’t know whether she and Ms. Hodges have ever acted together before, but they’re definitely in tune, and their palpable rapport has much to do with the production’s appeal….
No link, of course (megasigh). If you care to read the whole thing, of which there is much, much more, go out and buy a copy of today’s Journal, or go here to subscribe to the Online Journal, which will provide you with immediate access to the full text of my review, along with Joe Morgenstern’s Pulitzer-winning film column and plenty of other worthy art-related copy.