Using 24 actors to portray 46 speaking roles, and drawing on the characters and form of Shakespeare's timeless original, the author creates an epic drama which captures the sense and shape of life in Gloucester, Massachusetts, from the 1950s to the present day. Prince Hal, Hotspur, Falstaff and many others are on hand in the guise of Hal Boley and Harry Percy (sons of two rival union leaders) and Jack Silva (Hal's drinking companion) and, as in Shakespeare's play, they are inexorably drawn into scandal and dispute. In the present play the action focuses on "Glossop's" waterfront which, as the traditional fishing industry declines, finds itself the center of illicit drug trafficking, venal real estate speculation and union corruption—all of which add to the woes of a local citizenry already beset by economic and social problems not of its own making. Inevitably the growing tensions build to a climax which is both theatrically explosive and tragic—but which also offers the hope that the bitter lessons learned might lead on to positive change once the overheated emotions of the moment have cooled.
"Imagine Henry IV, Parts I and II performed as if it were On the Waterfront and you have some idea of the excitement generated by Israel Horovitz's latest full length play…HENRY LUMPER is that rare dramatic production: timely, exciting and theatrical." —BackStage.
"Mr. Horovitz, an accomplished playwright, has an interesting story to tell about the decline of a port town's industry and morality…" —NY Times.