The Great River Shakespeare Festival has done wonders in bringing a professional, summer theater experience for residents and visitors of Winona over the past eight years. I've only managed to make it down twice in that time, but I'm happy to report that the quality of performances has increased as well.
King Henry IV, Part One is not the easiest of Shakespeare's work to produce. While there's a complete story presented, the title alone lets you know that you have only seen the first part (in many ways three, as the main story about Prince Hal continues to unfold in Part Two and when he becomes the monarch in Henry V) and the young prince's journey from callow youth to ruler of all Britain has just begun.
The play follows two main streams. On one side, there is Hal and the denizens of a disreputable London tavern, the Boar's Head, where he has befriended the famously corpulent John Falstaff. The other traces Henry "Hotspur" Percy, who had once been an ally to the titular king, but is now aggrieved by the monarch as he has become a rebel.
There are other strong performances here as well, including Jonathan Gillard Daly's turn as the massive Falstaff. Though his costuming as a fat man isn't all that convincing, Daly plays the role for all its worth, bringing out the positive and negative parts of the character in full light. Falstaff is at turns charming and infuriating; courtly and a coward, and Daly shows us all of that in his complex and complete performance. (And speaking of aspects that weren't all that convincing: the actors heave and grunt mightily in the fight scenes, which would have been more convincing if they weren't using rather cute short swords.)