TAMPA — Jobsite Theater is known for its creative updating of William Shakespeare’s plays. Now the resident company at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts is back at it again with an exciting production of Henry V.
Held in the socially distanced Jaeb Theater, the play follows the newly crowned King Henry V, who as an adolescent prince was rebellious and hung out with thieves and drunks at taverns. Thanks to the conspiring of two clergymen, he has been convinced that because of a law he is the rightful heir to France’s throne.
This eventually leads to the Battle of Agincourt between England and France in 1415. The drama has all the hallmarks of why the Bard’s writing endures: conspiracy, backstabbing, guilt and moments of wit and laugh-out-loud humor.
The production gets a modern treatment with an original, industrial score by Jeremy Douglass and video montages produced by director David Jenkins.
The video montages add background to the set and often include poignant visions of war throughout history. But the media is also used to set up certain aspects of the preceding plays, Henry IV parts one and two, with actors reading lines mixed in with the booming score.
Aside from Adam Workman, who plays King Henry V, the rest of the cast play multiple roles, a clever way to keep the number of people on stage to a minimum. It speaks to the versatility of the powerhouse actors — Kara Sotakoun, Ned Averill-Snell, Brian Matthew Shea, Katrina Stevenson, Roxanne M. Fay, Lizzie Kehoe and Cornelio Aguilera — who switch accents from British, Welsh, Scottish and French as seamlessly as they change costumes, which were designed by Stevenson. Jobsite veteran Giles Davies served as the associate director and the text coach.
The minimal set, designed by Brian Smallheer, is composed of scaffolding, which the actors climb and move through with stealth. Lighting designed by Jo Averill-Snell adds drama, particularly during battle scenes, and in the final scene frames the actors like punctuation.
The play runs over two hours, including an intermission. But with the compelling story line, captivating performances and rocking score, it goes by in a snap. After the show, the audience was abuzz.
If you go
Henry V runs through May 2. $35.50 single seat, $79.50 pair of seats, $99.50 table that seats four. Masks are required for the duration of the production. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. 813-229-7827. jobsitetheater.org.