First things first, I think I must publicly acknowledge that I love Shakespeare and was extremely glad to be able to see one of his plays. I’ve read Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet,  Macbeth, and Hamlet; each of them left its mark on me in inexplicable ways. Whether it was the betrayal in Caesar or the madness in Hamlet, Shakespeare was always able to uniquely convey emotion through powerful language. At the same time, he touched on timeless themes and relatable topics: the lust for power, parent-child relationships, and the temptations of love are only a few.

There was also his intrigue with history and the monarchy that I could relate to. I am fascinated by the class structure and political systems of the United Kingdom, something I enjoy learning about whenever I can. Whether it’s through watching television (i.e. The Tudors and CW’s Reign, whose season 3 plot intertwines England and France) or doing research, there are so many compelling things about the English monarchy that I’m glad Shakespeare tried to highlight. I mean, just take for example how Henry IV became king by ousting Richard II. Can you believe that happened? What about Elizabeth I, whose feud with Mary, Queen of Scots, resulted in her (Mary’s) execution? English history has been tainted with, among others, murder, treason, incest, and religious rebellion. I can see why Shakespeare loved it.

Henry IV was an amalgamation of the aforementioned traits and themes (namely power and family), set in the 15th century after Henry IV seizes the throne. In the St. Ann’s version, however, there were obvious differences: the cast was all women and it was set in a prison. Coming in, I figured this would be a problem—what would a Shakespeare play be without the glitz and glamour of the monarchy?

Perhaps not much. I admit the play was spectacular—the acting was captivating, the jokes were laugh-out-loud hysterical (Scotland!), and the addition of music was lovely—but some part of me kept feeling like Henry IV the play was really just the backdrop to the drama within the prison. After all, that was the context; the review in class mentioned that, in the plot, the prisoners were staging a show. This ultimately disappointed me. And in the end, while I loved many parts of the St. Ann’s rendition, I came out of it realizing I would rather stick to the old stuff that made Shakespeare great. Unpopular opinion, I know. Sue me.