King Lear: Not Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth

Noted British tragedy gets an unnotable production at the Lincoln Center Festival

The two best performances, Geoffrey Freshwater's Gloucester and Charles Aitken's Edgar, both do something that no one else in the company, or Farr, seems to have thought about: Each gives his character a trajectory, building from what they begin as to what they become; and each makes sure that every moment along that route receives the correct emotional weight. As a result, their journey to Dover, with one character blinded and the other going from disguise to disguise, brings the evening its only moving passages. For the rest, it's Shakespeare tidbits as usual, but after what the RSC's been through, business as usual constitutes a distinct improvement.

The RSC takes a Park Avenue address: Greg Hicks and Geoffrey Freshwater
Manuel Harlan
The RSC takes a Park Avenue address: Greg Hicks and Geoffrey Freshwater


King Lear
By William Shakespeare
Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Avenue

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I concur. The production is only so-so. I especially disliked the way in which Goneril and Regan were shown to be so clearly evil right from the first, when in act one, at least, they would seem to have some cause to be less than delighted with their arrogant, selfish,arbitrary father. He's given them his kingdom so that he can have authority without responsibility, after all. But this Goneril and Regan are so clearly horrible from the beginning that there is no change in one's response to them They are not only static characters, their evil seems motiveless. They're awful because they're awful, not because they've been bullied and repressed, for instance. Thus, all the subtle ambiguities are gone, making the play a melodrama of good guys versus bad guys.

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