Reviews: Rudolf II
“One of many questions posed by this play is: if you had essentially unlimited riches at your command, would you choose to squander them on science and art or on national defense? (Which answer is the truly mad one?) ....
“Rudolf is an immense role, and Timothy McCown Reynolds gives the immense performance that the play requires and deserves. Particularly in the poignant second act, where we witness the decline of a startling intellect, Reynolds brings potency and conviction to a larger-than-life character .... [T]he exquisitely sad and touching second act shows us the ruins of the mind that had been capable of conceiving them. Rudolf’s illness, possibly inherited ... is very real and genuinely tragic.
“Director Henry Akona, who has staged the play tennis-court style in a beautiful theatre housed in the newly renovated Bohemian National Hall, uses the space efficiently and keeps the near-epic story moving briskly and trenchantly.
“Rudolf II is the kind of audacious, ambitious, commercialism-be-damned play that makes indie theater so special and worthwhile. I am very glad to have seen it, and to have been exposed to the historical figures and profound ideas that it trades in. A most stimulating event!”
“Director Henry Akona could not have chosen a more palatial location to stage Edward Einhorn’s new play “Rudolf II” than the Grand Ballroom of the newly restored Bohemian National Hall .... With its high ceilings, new crown moldings, iron handrails and sparse, yet deliberate set design, accompanied by a live chorus and musical ensemble—the Grand Ballroom gives you a sense that you’re entering a royal palace. .... These are the moments that make “Rudolf” the play as memorable as it is fun to watch. The costumes are exquisite and rarely do audiences have the chance to experience the detailing (from the turquoise table used for divination to the men’s slinky tights to the hooks and eyes on the women’s corsets) so closely.”
“The show is great. The acting is phenomenal and it’s one of those off-off-Broadway shows that really should be off-Broadway so it gets the audience it deserves. .... Timothy McCowan Reynolds plays Rudolf and is on stage every second of the show. He is nothing short of incredible. Reynolds’ portrayal is sad, funny, charming, frightening, sexy and pathetic all at once and he never slows down. .... As good as he is, others in the cast step right up to his level.
“Director Henry Akona makes wonderful use of the newly refurbished Bohemian National Hall. Although there is a stage, it is not used. Instead, the action takes place in the section of the theater where the audience usually sits. The audience is positioned on either side of a long red carpet that leads to a bed and everything happens here. It really lets the audience feel they too are in the bed chambers of the Emperor. The live musicians and singers in the balcony providing music throughout the show and during the scene changes, add even more to this environmental production. Akona finds the right balance between the serious nature of the show and the comedy that happens even in the most serious of moments.
“I didn’t just like this show, I loved it. It proves that an off-off-Broadway production can be just as inspiring as a show that has a huge budget and weeks and weeks of out of town try-outs. This show could be put into any off-Broadway house and have a very successful run. Get a ticket now, I doubt you'll regret it.”
“[P]laywright Edward Einhorn has imagined and presented it in a manner that is nothing short of dazzling. Director Henry Akona maximizes the generous space of the new and magnificent Renaissance Revival Bohemian National Hall on the Upper East Side. A royal bed, on and around which much of the action occurs, sits at the head of the hall. A bright red carpet runs down the length of the hall (the audience is seated, lengthwise, two rows deep) and every inch of its space is used at one time or other during the production.
“Since he spends much of his time in bed, Rudolf (Timothy McCown Reynolds) is almost always dressed in a sleeping gown. Despite this, he exudes a kingly, if effeminate, demeanor that would make one think twice before crossing him. Mr. Reynolds’ acting is first-rate; he moves effortlessly from charming, to bewildered, to enraged.
“It takes chutzpah and no small amount of self-confidence to pen a historical play such as this. Mr. Einhorn surely grasps the magnitude of the undertaking and turns the effort into an unmitigated success.”
“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.”