"King John” marks the 25th production in The Porters of Hellsgate’s epic journey through Shakespeare’s entire canon of work. It could be said that it’s the most politically timely.
Let’s set the scene, shall we?
A weak and feckless bully becomes king when his father dies. Because of his fear and self-loathing, he then proceeds to wreak havoc with his selfish lust for power and his total disdain for the safety and well being of his subjects, by taking the country to war with France while he tries to destroy his rival Prince Arthur, the true successor to the throne.
So not exactly a comedy…although it is very funny at times, in a wincingly familiar way.
What does a powerful leader with a terrible personality surrounded by sycophants and psychopaths do to the world around him? How do we see through his eyes, dare we? And how do we watch him fall…with utter glee most probably?
The always superb and wickedly perfect Porters of Hellsgate have done it again. With brilliant actors bursting with every trick an actor could have, they spin this tale, so beautifully written, with deft passion and rueful style.
It’s a riot of a play. Full of battles and contentious manoeuvrings and betrayal and sweet love, jealousy and demonic plotting. With one side all honor, dignity and respect and the other twisted, vengeful deceit. All this marvelousness and the cast are just absolutely fantastic in every single role.
I remember reading "King John" in school, I was forced to of course. It’s a mostly overlooked story sadly, perhaps not the brightest play in Shakespeare’s firmament, although I rather like it. But with this cast and in these turbulent political times it seems altogether fresh and new and suddenly vital and important again.
Oh and there’s lots of lovely swordplay…with long swords all flailing around…very exciting! You will recognize some marvelous turns of phrase and there’s a wonderful speech given by the fabulous Betsy Roth as Constance, Prince Arthur's mother. She is totally fearless in this role, bravo!
But everyone is brilliant, everyone finds their own particular corner of this tempestuous world and makes it their own. I love this company and their very grand quest to produce all these incredible and always pertinent plays.
We are very lucky that they seem to like our little NoHo neighborhood and the best way to encourage them to stay is to go and see them perform and to applaud very, very loudly at the end.
As usual, I highly and profusely recommend “King John” and The Porters of Hellsgate who perform it. Don’t dawdle or dither…get your tickets.
Porters of Hellsgate Presents; Shakespeare’s “King John”
Whitmore Lindley Theatre, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
Running November 4 - December 10, Friday and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 2PM
King John - Gus Krieger
Queen Eleanor - Hersha Parady
Prince Henry - Brendan Mulligan
Blanche of Castile - Cindy Nguyen
Philip The Bastard - William Gray Schierholt
Lady Faulconbridge - Kate O’Toole
James Gurney - Matt Jayson
Lady Constance - Betsy Roth
Salisbury - Michael Hoag
Arthur - Molly Wear
Philip King of France - Jacques Freydont
Lewis the Dauphin - Jono Eiland
Hubert of Angiers - Dan White
Chatillon - Thomas Bigley
Austria - Max Sorg
Pandulph - Matt Jayson
Thomas Bigley - Driector
Nick Neidorf - Composer, Sound Designer
Jessica Pasternak - Costume Designer
Margret Starbuck - Stage Manager
Jesse James Thomas - Fight Choreographer
Sean Faye, Nick Neidorf & Alex Parker - Producers