The Folger Theatre production of “Henry V” is intended to be very modern, in every way but one.
Even though the hot thing to do with Shakespeare as of late is to uproot his tales from their Elizabethan roots and plant them someplace fresh — the Wild West! Cuba in the 1930s! Hollywood! — Folger’s “Henry V” is staying put in 1415, “where it’s meant to be,” said Zach Appelman, who plays Henry.
Despite the centuries-old setting, “I keep being surprised by how modern the play is, without us having to modernize it at all,” Appelman said. “How modern [and] relevant and alive it feels.”
The show was slated for this slot in the Folger schedule so it could play on Capitol Hill with the inauguration in the background, director Robert Richmond said.
Henry “is dealing with having to unify a nation under one sovereign king. And there are, more than in any other play, many different factions inside what is being called ‘English.’ . . . One’s identity, national and personal, somehow have to be used and understood, and one has to go forward and embrace the differences between the people rather than the contradictions. I feel that’s a good message for us right now, as we stand here, before going forward with the inauguration.”