Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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A Bloody Mess is Sam Gold's King Lear starring Glenda Jackson





Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk Entertainment.com

The Ides of March has come and gone. Now is the springtime of our discontent. And…

‘tis the season to be different: new plays, old revivals, star vehicles, three hour plus productions, “strictly” limited engagements (that sometimes extend), bizarre choices, all-inclusive and colorblind casting, British imports and ludicrous concepts all vying for the almighty TONY.

Director Sam Gold has outdone himself this time. And that isn’t a compliment. In his conceptual extremely confusing “theater of the absurd” version of KING LEAR we ponder if this classic work from Shakespeare is a tragedy or a travesty starring none other than 82 year old Glenda Jackson as Leer.

No that isn’t a typo. Jackson as the overpowering title character leers, sneers, snarls, insults, pontificates, points with his still strong hands, intimidates, commands, bellows and uses an infinite number of facial expressions as if it was made out of silly putty.

One does admire the stamina of Glenda Jackson. But her Lear is of the grandiose old school of acting that doesn’t quite jibe with the hit and/or miss renditions of her supporting players.

As if the poetic and long and winding road language of the Bard of Avon is hard enough to understand we have a string quartet to drown out the words. A quartet of wandering minstrels that pop up here and there throughout this very long full of plot production. Basically situated upstage in formal wear they serenade us with the not very dulcet tones of Philip Glass. Not necessary and completely intrusive.

This old egotistical King that is headed down the road to dementia insists that his three daughters profess their love for him before dividing his kingdom. Let the phoniest one win.

For the record they are the eldest Goneril (Elizabeth Marvel – who will have outrageous simulated quickie sex with Edmond (Pedro Pascal) who is not her husband the Duke of Albany (Dion Johnstone) – Regan (Aisling O’Sullivan) who screams her speeches not so trippingly on the tongue who is wed to the Duke of Cornwall who is played by the deaf Russell Harvard wearing a kilt and needing Aide (Michael Arden) who signs and speaks for him. Lastly sweet Cordelia (a refined Ruth Wilson) who doubles as the Fool looking very much like Charlie Chaplin, cavorting and singing with a cockney accent. All three boast different accents. I would love to meet their mum.

Then we have the loyal to Lear, Duke of Gloucester and his two sons. He is portrayed by a she. Jayne Houdyshell who eventually gets his eyes gouged out and is led around by Edgar his legitimate son (Sean Carvajal) who seems to have wandered in from The Tempest. The aforementioned Edmond is Gloucester’s illegitimate son and a charmer. Speaking to the audience he seduces us and is one of the only actors aside from Ruth Wilson that we can believe to be human beings.

John Douglas Thompson makes for a stalwart Duke of Kent.

It’s quite a mixed bag of types and colors on stage at the CORT THEATRE. Odd choices all around. It’s quite a lot of styles of costumes (Ann Roth) – from formal tuxedos and evening gowns to boot camp camouflage. Lots of accents. Lots of fake blood. In fact, it’s a bloody mess.

As Lear goes mad, one sitting and watching and listening while awaiting the end may grow madder. I did. If rosemary is for remembrance this KING LEAR should be forgotten.

Through July 7th. Act I - 2 hours followed by a 20 minute intermission when my guest fled like a bat out of hell. Act II - 1 hour and 10 minutes. I survived, but barely.

www.kinglearbroadway.com

Visit www.oscaremoore.com for additional photos

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe


  
04-22-19