Regardless of the fictional aspects as the focal point as opposed to the historical saga, The Angels of Mons is a World War I era drama about humanity and humility. Borrowing elements from the Shakespeare history, George and his comrades are in hiding and discover a young Belgium boy aptly named Harry. With war surrounding their hideout, George and Harry share niceties and play the roles in Shakespeare’s play. Getting the boys to play along, Henry V is perfectly analyzed until morning comes and war becomes the focus once again. Eric Webb has clearly done his research to make this play accurate. Webb layers in war actualities with a strong knowledge of the Shakespearian source material but there are moments that it comes off as an English class analyzing a text or a strongly written essay rather than a story. Despite this, Webb blends his own poetic voice with Shakespeare. When the characters drop into monologues, Webb’s language is stunning. From a plot perspective, believability is sometimes forgotten. From the small, like Charles’ seemingly devastating injury at the start is ignored as he uses his arm normally, to the large, like the high stakes war surrounding the playful dress-up time, some sacrifices were made for entertainment. Though there were some incredibly strong moments of high stakes, with a long run time, The Angels of Mons could benefit from a trim.
|photo courtesy of Laura Archer|
The ensemble of seven did their finest to bring World War 1 to the stage. With each actor picking a different dialect, the accents as a whole showcased imperfection. Quite possibly the strongest character in the piece, Christopher Basile as Burke was also the strongest actor on stage. Basile’s conviction and forte allowed for a well-rounded performance. Ben Stroman as Alfie, the religious nice guy, lacked material but still gave a strong performance. George Hider as the timid nice guy John was loveable. Jeffrey Roth’s sly cockney Peter was a highlight for comic relief. Michael Broadhurst had a lot of weight to carry as the focal point of the play and the leader of the brigade. Broadhurst lacked the command to lead both.
March Forth Productions’ The Angels of Mons was a daring piece of theater. It was woefully the wrong play for the space. Perhaps in a different theater, The Angels of Mons would resonate and give the full perspective of war.