“Bravely directed by Leslie Schisgall Currier, this rousing story of the battle for the English throne is an action-packed history play full of humor, drama and pathos….
There are many outstanding performances in this production. Scott Coopwood, in the title role, stands up to his enemies and brings out both the strength and weakness of his character. Erik MacRay as Philip Faulconbridge, known as the Bastard because he is the illegitimate son of King Richard the Lionheart, has all the natural Plantagenet intelligence and charisma, and stands like a chorus, outside of the action, where he can comment on the foibles and political decisions with insightful wit and to illuminate all the turmoil going on around him.
Liz Sklar as Queen Constance, the mother of young Prince Arthur, makes the laments of Constance her own. In contrast to his performance as Julius Caesar, Ashland veteran Barry Kraft, gives a performance full of affectation as Philip, King of France. With a cast of 30 actors, Director Leslie [sic] Schisgall Currier, handles her cast with skill and brings to life many surprises along the way.
Abra Berman's costumes are colorful and accurate period. Dialect Coach Lynne Soffer is to be commended for the clarity of speech each actor utters in several dialects.”
- Flora Lynn Isaacson, For All Events
“This marks the third time I have seen this play, the first being years ago at the Swan Theatre at Stratford Upon Avon and the second time in 2006 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Both productions were very serious with little or no humor.
Director Lesley Schisgall Currier decided to put more focus on comedy, especially in the roles of Philip Faulconbridge, also known as Phillip the Bastard (son of Richard the Lionheart), and Cardinal Pandulph, the Pope's Legate. She has also cut the production down to two hours and 30 minutes with one intermission. You could say this is a drama for 21st century audiences….
There are outstanding performances from the large cast, especially Erik MacRay as Philip the Bastard in a smooth and solid performance that is reminiscent of those Errol Flynn costume films in the 1930s and '40s….
Scott Coopwood is first rate as King John. He portrays the king as a strong but misguided leader of the nation. Barry Kraft (20 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival) gives a smart performance as King Phillip of France while Liz Sklar gives a great performance as Constance. She is spellbinding in her long recitative of grief. Young Samuel Berston gives a sweet performance as Prince Arthur.
Stephen Muterspaugh with his fractured Italian plays Cardinal Pandulph for high camp laughs, which is the first time I have seen this serious role played for laughs (however this does make sense—when the character first appeared in 1596, the Church of England had broken with the Church of Rome and so he would be comic character).
Hubert of Angers, a small but pivotal role, is wonderfully played by James Hiser. The scenes between Hubert and King John wherein they discuss the nature of the care of the captive Arthur and moments where Hubert deals with his assignment to kill the young pretender and their consequences are the crown jewels of this play and the production.
Other good performances include Alexander Lenarsky as a somewhat effeminate Lewis, the French Dauphin; Maxine Sattizahn as Queen Elinor, King John's mother; and Brandon Mears, also a very effeminate Chatillon, Ambassador from France to King John. Ellen Brooks is a delight admitting her adultery as Philip's mother.
Mark Robinson's set design is simple, leaving the stage empty for some authentic French and English costumes of the 16th century by Abra Berman. Kudos also to Richard Squeri as the Fight Director for the battle scenes and lighting designer Ellen Brooks for a brilliantly lighted stage.”
- Richard Connema, Talkin’ Broadway