|Yvonne Roen and Timothy McCown Reynolds
in Rudolf II
(© Arthur Cornelius)
Sorry for the delayed review (due to my basement flooding) but a few weeks ago I was fortunate to Edward Einhorn’s new play, “Rudolf II”. This is a fantastic production at the newly restored Bohemian National Hall. First of all, the space itself is gorgeous. This is also the first full-length play that has played there. The story intertwines historical figures in this fictional work. The play centers around Rudolf II, a bisexual, bipolar emperor in 1600 Prague. Set completely in Rudolf’s bedroom, the play is a portrait of an emperor who was both extraordinary visionary and self-destructive. Through his bedroom, he interacts with many characters: his mistress; Libuse, the prophetess who founded Prague; Tycho Brahe, famous astronomer, to name a few.
What I really found captivating about this play is the use of language. Through the play is set in 1600 Prague, the language is modern and Mr. Einhorn does a great job of conveying how each character felt about this demanding emperor. Also the use of having the character Libuse narrate the story helps propel everything a little more. As the play progresses, the audience gets a look into Rudolf’s mind as he gradually losses his mind.
The directing by Henry Akona is superb and set as a theatre in the round. Also, adding small details add to the atmosphere: a group of singers who chant, the terrific color pallet, and the costumes. For a play set in only one spot, the audience never gets bored. There is so much action with very clear dialogue.
The cast is great and I must say an outstanding tour deforce performance by Timothy McCown Reynolds. For 99% of the play he is on stage and gives life to Rudolf. Since the play centers around his character, he not only have many monologue (some seem like tongue twisters!) but also to make this character seem engaging. The rest of the cast works solidly together and each actor plays their part with conviction.
This is a great take on a classic historical time period not many people know much about. Don’t be fooled by the title- Rudolf II is filled with sex, science and of course ,history.