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Saturday, February 9, 2013

King Lear-Can A Old Man Get A Break

I attended the Dallas Theatre Center's production of King Lear last night at the Wyly.

The Shakespearean masterpiece was directed by Kevin Moriarty and has obviously been a life's passion for the director to produce.
He does a fine job of revealing Shakespeare to 'first timers' and longtime fans of the Bard's work alike.
Making Shakespeare a little more streamlined and easier to follow is a good thing.
Let's face it, it's a great thing in today's modern age...

It's well known that Shakespeare and his cronies performed for hours, days, sometimes weeks at a time to riveted, packed houses, audiences who were happy to be entertained at length.
Life was hard. Shakespeare's plays took up the time and made it easier.
Oh, if that were only the case today.
Today, we cut 3 Acts worth of dialogue out of Shakespeare's work to keep people from falling asleep in the theatre or worse!
We squirm in our seats after 2 hours, add another 45 minutes, and you've got people leaving at intermission. Needless to say, our attention spans are lacking when it comes to long plays, and even long films, especially if it's Shakespeare. 

Here's where this production succeeds. It takes you through the filler and the the banter that was so revered by our elders, and gets to the meat of the story. Quick, concise, succinct.
I admire that.
Unfortunately, it's what the world needs now.
It's far from a 'cliff notes' version to be sure, as the meat in Lear is gritty gritty good.

I enjoyed the 'Gordon Gecko' boardroom setting, straight from the 1980's 'Wall Street' motif.
The costumes were equally enjoyable, as at times, I felt myself watching a Michael Jackson music video more than Shakespeare.
The music was menacing and foreboding, the effects, brilliant.

Well cast and performed, the actors had all the tools to bring this King's tragedy home to Dallas.
They delivered.
Especially Lear, whom I didn't see as an "Alzheimer's patient", but rather a PROUD OLD KING who makes mistakes, serious familial missteps which lead to despair by all. Then finally, he is made to suffer the ultimate tragedy.
If anything, I related the King's mannerisms, voice and actions to that of any aging parent facing "the end".
I've seen firsthand how fast, how far a man can fall after he's given up and given in...
Especially an AGING King concerned with his legacy and half mad with aches and pains that come with the lingering thoughts of his own mortality. No. This Lear starts strong and in control. Old, but still in control. Shiny crown on his head, he descends into madness slowly, as any man would who's best friend is a fool.
Lear's message is for all to heed, I believe every man who has a daughter should most definitely see it.
Abbey Siegworth, Steven Walters, Brian Mceleney and Stephen Berenson in King Lear. Photo by Karen Almond.

So many good dramatic decisions here, they outweigh any negative criticism one would care to dream up.

Beware of nudity, violence, treachery, and gun play.
Although, the gun play did seem befitting for a production performed in Texas.

Another triumph for Dallas Theatre and local talent.