By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter
Tom Hanks started out playing Shakespeare in 1977 as a minor character in “The Taming of the Shrew.” Now, after four decades of big screen success (and a few horrors) the Riviera resident returns, beard, fat suit and all, to live Shakespeare, to play the incorrigible thief and drunk Falstaff in “Henry IV.”
The star-studded production by the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, which merges the two “Henry” plays to focus on the arc of the relationship between Hal and his father-figure Falstaff, is opening at The Japanese Garden on the West Los Angeles VA Campus.
Hanks, like Orson Welles before him, will be bolstered up with a fat suit. Jokes depend on it.
Although Hanks is known for goofish comedies that have in recent years morphed into harder-edged dramas—here, Hanks has returned to his roots, being directed by Dan Sullivan, the Tony-winner who directed him on stage all those years ago.
“He was quite wonderful in his facility with the language, but also just his comic ability was very apparent, even then,” Sullivan told The Press Enterprise.
“With a rebellion brewing, King Henry calls for his trouble-making son Hal to abandon his seedy bars and criminal hangouts and come home,” the show description states.
“But Hal has ideas of his own, having taken up with the lovable liar and thief Sir John Falstaff and his crew of highway robbers. Is Hal ready for the royal responsibilities his father desperately needs him to handle? A story about fathers and sons, growing up and growing old, honor and rascals.”
Hal is played by Hamish Linklater, a regular on the Shakespearian circuit. Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson was set to play innkeeper Mistress Quickly, but her film schedule changed, so she was replaced by Rondi Reed. She is best known for playing Peggy in the television series “Mike & Molly.”
“Henry IV” runs for a limited season daily at 8 p.m. from June 10 until July 1, except for Mondays. Tickets are $49-$500. They can be purchased at henryiv.org.
When we last looked, a few tickets were still available.