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Reign, reign, go away: it floods again

Doll Tearsheet (Nell Geisslinger), Falstaff (Michael Winters) and a disguised Prince Hal (John Tufts) in "Henry IV, Part Two." Photo: T. Charles Erickson/Oregon Shakespeare FestivalT. Charles Erickson/OSF

By Bob Hicks

All right, now, enough is enough. Not to get all Bardic on your heads, but this truly seems to be the summer of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival‘s discontent.

Yesterday we told you about the storm that sapped the power all over the festival’s hometown of Ashland, and the emergency-tent performance that was thus wiped out, and we recounted the perils of the broken playhouse, which after six weeks of darkness thankfully will be whole again in another couple of weeks.

So now let’s catch up with last night and the Case of the Empty House. That would be, The Case of the Empty House Awash in Rain, except it wasn’t totally empty (Mr. Scatter exaggerates) and the rain, for all its annoyance, wasn’t exactly a gullywasher, although a fair share of the audience that did show up treated it like the Johnstown Flood.

The theater was the Elizabethan Stage, that grand open-air space that holds 1,200 people. The play was Henry IV, Part Two, the midplay in the Henry saga and in many ways the least stirring, yet a play that still has considerable charms. The audience was … sparse. I’ve seen a few light houses in the 30-plus years I’ve been coming to the festival, but for a Saturday night in July and a play that may not be one of the box-office boffos like Twelfth Night but is hardly Troilus and Cressida or Pericles, Prince of Tyre either, the wide swaths of empty seats were shocking.

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