Liev Schreiber to Be Henry V in Central Park, June 24-Aug. 10

News   Liev Schreiber to Be Henry V in Central Park, June 24-Aug. 10 Liev Schreiber, a performer some critics have called one of the best classical actors now working the American stage, will play the title role in Shakespeare's Henry V in Central Park this summer. Mark Wing Davey will direct.
Liev Schreiber as the title character in the Public's Hamlet.
Liev Schreiber as the title character in the Public's Hamlet. (Photo by Michal Daniel)

Dates are June 24-Aug. 10. No other casting has been announced.

By playing the young king, Schreiber continues his long artistic relationship with the Public Theater, where he has previously taken on three leading Shakespearean parts, winning critical praise for each performance (even when the production was not applauded). They were: Iachimo in Cymbeline in 1998, also in the park (for which he won an Obie Award); Hamlet in 1999; and Iago in Othello in 2001. He worked with director Andrei Serban on the first two, Doug Hughes on the last.

In between his classical roles, Schreiber found time to appear in Harold Pinter's Betrayal on Broadway and the premiere of Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat Off-Broadway at MCC Theatre. Recently, he was in discussions to play Shylock in The Merchant of Venice at New York Theatre Workshop. The production did not materialize.

Henry V tells of the youthful English leader's rise to the throne and how, after casting off the profligate friends of his callow youth (including Falstaff), he vigorously assumes his new role and leads the English troops to a surprising victory over France at Agincourt, during the Hundred Years War. The rousing and patriotic history play is often performed at times of war. Henry's famous "band of brothers" speech, in which he whips up the courage of his beleaguered and outnumbered troops, is particularly renowned for its sense of soldierly spirit and valor. However, certain interpretations (included Kenneth Branagh's 1989 film) have brought out the more gritty and disconcerting aspects of Shakespeare's depiction of warfare.

It is not known what approach Wing-Davey will take, but it seems safe to expect that the production will comment, either directly or obliquely, on the current war in Iraq. As with last year, the Delacorte Theatre season will be cut down from two plays to only one play, albeit a single staging with a longer run than usual. Last year's attraction was Twelfth Night, with Julia Stiles and Oliver Platt.

Keith David and Liev Schreiber in the Public's <i>Othello</i>.
Keith David and Liev Schreiber in the Public's Othello. (Photo by Michal Daniel)