Demonstrating decisively that a hero can always be found waiting in the wings, a young actor by the name of Zach Appelman has come along to grab hold of the oratorical reins of “Henry V” and carry us with astonishing confidence back once more unto the breach.
Appelman commandingly occupies center stage of director Robert Richmond’s capital new staging of “Henry V” at Folger Theatre for, perhaps, the most stirring version of a Shakespeare history play the city has seen in a decade. Tautly constructed and impressively spoken, Richmond’s production conveys with the savvy deployment of a mere 13 actors (one of them a fiddle player) the evolution of a leader from petulant boy-soldier to lionhearted royal statesman.
You always imagine your grounding in a particular work of Shakespeare is complete until you encounter another noteworthy example. Richmond, who tweaked for Folger the Bard’s cravenly political “Henry VIII” in 2010 and a year later explored the psyche of a charismatically sociopathic Iago in “Othello,” offers his most accomplished vision to date with “Henry V.” It is far from a breeze to find an actor with both the physical bearing and the brains to play a great warrior-king. So when it happens, the occasion is one for toasts and cheers.