ellen_kushner (ellen_kushner) wrote,

KING LEAR in Central Park

We saw Lithgow & co's KING LEAR last night at Shakespeare in the Park. Well worth seeing.  Really really smart and interesting direction. Lear & Fool's relationship best I've ever seen:  Fool genuinely bitter about Cordelia's loss at first, all his jokes barbed - then he takes over as Lear's glue & caretaker:  "Keep me in temper" spoken to him and not the gods.  And Edmund a classic Shakespearean sociopath - dispassionate & charming & in cahoots with the audience - in a line with Richard III & Iago - he should always be played that way!  Because of miking, every word crystal clear & some vocal subtlety allowed.  Best Lear-Edgar-Kent-Fool ("I took you for a joint-stool") scene ever, because they were ALL PLAYING OFF EACH OTHER instead of fading into the background when it wasn't their turn.  Edgar's Mad Tom was utterly freaking out the Fool, who kept edging away from him.  Tom very physical, jumped on top of Kent at one point.  Everyone united in trying to protect the unraveling Lear.
Kent genuinely funny, Gloucester genuinely dignified - if a bit of a fool (and his eventual transformation less than satisfying).  Cornwall a true brute; Albany irresistibly reminiscent of a nice Jewish man who just wants everyone to be decent - til he sees it's hopeless.  Cordelia's opening scene terrific, as you can see she & Lear have a special bond, so she expects him to get what she's doing…. and everyone's dawning horror when they realize he means it and is not quite himself and nothing anyone can do about it.  How Kent tries! What a writer, that WS - the number of times Kent refuses to give up….
Best closing lines to a play ever ever ever:
The weight of these sad times we must obey;
Say what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much nor live so long.
Tags: shakespeare, theater

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