February 22, 1991 |
If "Hamlet" was William Shakespeare's gift to the stage, "King Lear" was his curse. Among the Bard's tragedies, it mixes a highly lyrical meditation on truth and madness with crowd-pleasing slices of sex, swordplay and gross-out gore. Worse yet, it has moments of deliberate clumsiness, an absurdly complicated plot, and so much wicked cynicism that - despite the zest and rapid pacing of Temple University's impressive production - when the corpses begin to pile up at the end, you're happy that the mad king's sorry mess has cleaned itself up. Director Kevin Cotter has given the mess a kinky twist.
July 14, 2013 |
AN ATTORNEY for jailed former state Sen. Vince Fumo complained in court yesterday that the once powerful Democrat, in a legal battle with his daughter, has been cast as King Lear, the tragic figure who goes mad trying to leave his holdings to his children. Normally you could chalk that up to overblown legal rhetoric. But with Fumo, who has a long history of relationships dissolving into disputes, attorney Thomas Leonard was spot on with the Shakespearean reference. The fight involves a trust fund Fumo set up with $3.2 million in 2006 for two of his three children, Vince Fumo Jr. and Allison Fumo.
June 10, 1997 |
Perusing the cast of characters in the program before King Lear on Stage begins suggests that the show is going to be a novel presentation of Shakespeare's tragedy. The program notes that Goneril is played by a red high-heel shoe, Regan by a scarf, Kent by a pipe, and Cordelia by a Gerber daisy. It also tells us that King Lear is played by Thaddeus Phillips. We have to wait for the show to start to find out that Phillips, although he is portraying an elderly king of ancient Britain, is a man in his late 20s who makes no attempt to age himself with a wig or makeup and who plays Lear wearing a navy-blue blazer and an open-at-the-neck sports shirt.
July 15, 2008 |
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival produced King Lear not on its main stage but in its smaller black box theater, which means one thing: a new take on the old man. In the centuries since Lear was written, there have been a whole lot of reimaginings of Shakespeare's tale of filial impiety. Akira Kurosawa made Lear's girls into boys and placed the family in 16th-century Japan. Jane Smiley took the clan to the contemporary Midwest and gave the girls good reason to dislike Dad. Here, director Fontaine Syer takes an ingenious thematic leap with Lear as kingpin of a wiseguy empire, his retinue transformed into a posse of leather-jacketed, gold chain-wearing, hair-gelled pretenders to the throne.
June 15, 2001 |
Kristian Levring's The King Is Alive is the latest offering from Denmark's Dogma 95 school of filmmaking, a movement whose participating directors believe in addition by subtraction. By shunning gimmickry and restricting themselves to natural lighting and the props they find on location, they have produced such provocative and striking works as Celebration and Mifune. Bolder and more experimental, Levring's film has its flaws, but remains a fascinating and strangely involving piece.
October 26, 1995 |
In an interview in the current issue of the New Yorker magazine, the actor Tom Courtenay, explaining why he is not interested in performing King Lear, says, "I think if you are going to play Lear, you had best be a tyrant. " An actor may not actually have to be a tyrant to take the role of King Lear, but judging from the evidence on the stage at the Hedgerow Theatre, he should at least be able to play one believably. There's a nice-guy softness about George Spillane, the Hedgerow's Lear, that renders quite unconvincing his attempt to present the mighty, arbitrary tyrant that Lear is in the first third or so of the play.
September 24, 2014 |
'Who is it that can tell me who I am?" So asks the aged monarch early on in Shakespeare's King Lear . But when Joseph Marcell, who brings his Lear to the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts this week, utters the line, someone in the audience invariably shouts back, "Geoffrey!"
June 12, 1988 |
One of the most widely heeded and praised speeches at the Academy Awards in the last few years - and, let's face it, there hasn't been a lot of competition - was Steven Spielberg's 1987 appeal for a renewal of literate filmmaking and a respect for the power of words. Spielberg made his short, gracious speech in accepting the Irving Thalberg Award - a minor sop for the many injustices that Oscar voters have visited upon him. According to a just-published study of the notorious Twilight Zone: The Movie case, there was more to these words than met the ear at the time.
March 9, 2010 |
By now, toying with King Lear, currently at People's Light and Theatre, is practically a required piece of programming. So long as its performers are solid, Shakespeare's tragedy about a father who, as Lear's Fool jabs, "shouldst not have been old before thou hadst been wise," rarely fails to move its audience. Scholars argue about whether Lear is Shakespeare's greatest tragedy or simply among his greatest, but perhaps its best argument for the top spot is that it is a lifelong pleasure, with revelations excavated only as the viewer ages.
February 19, 2002 |
It is a small gesture by King Lear, but it is a defining moment in this production's conception of the character. During the storm scene on the moor, when Lear and the Fool proceed to a hovel for shelter, Shakespeare has the king say to his companion: "How dost my boy? Art cold? I am cold myself. " Lear then removes his cloak, and wraps it around the other man. In the tenderness of that moment, Buck Shirner, who plays the king, and director Carmen Khan make you see clearly and feel strongly Lear's change from a self-centered, overweening ruler into a humbled, suffering human being, as concerned for the welfare of others as his followers are for his. In this King Lear, presented by the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, Shirner makes the transition easier by playing his early Lear less imperiously cold.