Monthly Archive for: ‘June, 2013’

KING LEAR Guest review by William (Bill) Deuell

GUEST REVIEW by William (Bill)  Deuell of Arnold, California:

KING LEAR @ Oregon Shakespeare Festival, June 2013

King Lear (Michael Winters) thinks the only person loyal to him his his Fool (Daisuke Tsuji). Photo by Jenny Graham.

 I am not a student or fan of William Shakespeare. During my educational years, I had Shakespeare required reading which I believe was Romeo and Juliet. I found Shakespeare hard to read, difficult to understand, and I did not spend enough time to get to know how to enjoy Shakespeare’s works.

Nancy and I visited Ashland on the way home from a wonderful anniversary vacation in Gold Beach, Oregon. We had several choices of performances and chose King Lear since we had not seen it before and the reviews sounded interesting. We seemed to have overlooked the fact that the play was a “contemporary adaptation” of the original King Lear.

The theater was “in the round” and sold out. Our seats were in the second row from the front which put us as close to the action as you would want to be. Possibly, even too close as we felt almost part of the performance which at times became very violent.

Right from the start, the play held my attention, and also for the following four hours. The actors seemed to be the real characters Shakespeare had intended them to be. The sets were extraordinary, the sounds overwhelming, and the lighting truly unique. As in many Shakespeare plays, most of the characters die, and in this performance, have to be dragged from the stage. The makeup was so realistic, it actually made my stomach turn. At one point in the play, I looked at the audience in a beam of light, and one woman had the look of horror on her face.

Michael Winters played the role of King Lear. His performance was beyond my expectations. I cannot say enough regarding how he became the real King Lear and interfaced with the rest of the characters.

Daisuke Tsuji played the role of Fool. Probably because of the darkness of the play, his performance stood out as the only comedy relief. His performance was outstanding. 

Raffi Barsournian played the role of Edmund. He entered his part playing basketball which fit with the “contemporary” adaptation. He had a major role in this play, and did an exceptional job.

As for watching King Lear and others wandering around in their underwear, I cannot understand the point. Nancy says it is symbolic of dying and no need for clothes. That is good enough for me. You have to feel sorry for King Lear since he is now old and foolish.

Would I recommend attending the performance? Yes, I would recommend this play for anyone, whether the person is familiar with Shakespeare or not. There is something in this.

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