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This is the second time in two years I’ve watched actor Geoffrey Kent walk away with a production in which he’s not actually the lead. Last year his Hotspur stole every scene of Henry IV, Part One that he entered. Now Kent is playing Iago in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Othello — and he’s the best reason to see the play.
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Geoffrey Kent is a busy guy. He’s playing Don Pedro in this summer's Colorado Shakespeare Festival production of Much Ado About Nothing, and he's doing a couple of roles in Henry V. And Talbot in Henry VI, Part One. He's also the fight director for all these shows, making sure feats of swordplay aren’t marred by actual stabbings. And starting Friday, he’ll be portraying Iago in Othello. The pace of summer repertory theater is blistering, one of the best workouts a theater person can get.
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Geoffrey Kent is a jokester... So you know it’s dangerous to give him control of a production that features major battles with unorthodox weapons, elves and fairies, puppets, monsters, cheerleaders doing a dance-off, costumes that look as if someone’s mother had run them up for a quick Halloween fix but nonetheless work very effectively, a funky set that a bunch of inventive high-schoolers might have rigged up in the garage, lots of ’90s pop music, monster-slaying girls and many, many swordfights.
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Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 is filled with complex and fascinating characters, and one of the most fascinating, at least as played by Geoffrey Kent, is Hotspur.
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Geoffrey Kent comes close to galloping away with the entire production in the role; his Hotspur is tough and quick to anger but also very funny, and both rough and tender...
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As the arrogant and blustering French Doctor Caius, Geoffrey Kent is a comedic highlight, delivering lines in an overstated accent worthy of Monty Python and drawing on his full range of skills as CSF's resident fight coordinator during a duel featuring golf clubs and a bible.
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The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is in transition and its last season was uneven — but Geoffrey Kent's A Midsummer Night's Dream ransomed the summer.
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"What I love about Shakespeare's romances," says Kent, musing on The Tempest, "is they contain the best of the tragedies and the best of the comedies. The play is able to swing from line to line from wonderful comedy to gripping tragedy, and that feels very human to me."
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Shakes patrons know the earnest side of Kent — as Lucius in "Titus Andronicus" and Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet" — so it's a treat to see how funny he can be. Kent's Petruchio seems more bemused than angry at his hellion of a bride, which makes Gibson's growling and stomping and pummeling even funnier.
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Geoffrey Kent directs with a keen sense of sensuality (what an adonis that Cyex is) and wit that is quick becoming a trademark of the well-regarded actor-fight director as he helms more productions.