During an election season, Henry IV should be required viewing for the voting public. Ever the cynic, Shakespeare portrays politics as a complex of interactions; leadership not for the public good but for lineal obligation, the dangers of dynasty, and the pressure of public image.

It’s a story of rulers mired in greed, arrogance, duty, and betrayal. As appropriate to its time, and perhaps disconcertingly relevant today, Henry IV illustrates the uniquely masculine character of government; the struggle between father and son, and the mercurial friendships between soldiers determine the outcome of a war.

At a time when the country is once again considering a woman for president, it is with no small degree of significance that the University of Illinois Department of Theatre has decided to launch an all-female production of the play, with none other than Lisa Gaye Dixon, associate professor of theatre, in the timeless role of Sir John Falstaff. It’s an audacious choice, one sure to lend contemporary resonance to the timeless questions asked of the audience.

Henry IV opens tonight, Fri., Sat., and Mar. 6-8 7:30 p.m. and Sun. and Mar. 9, 3 p.m. at Krannert Center (500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana). Tickets are $6-$15 and can be purchased by calling 333-6280.