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BWW Review: KING LEAR at Shakespeare & Company

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Something Old, Something New, and Oh So Much to Celebrate!

BWW Review: KING LEAR at Shakespeare & Company

The return of the performing arts across the Berkshires has given audiences much to celebrate. With KING LEAR, Shakespeare & Company increases the list of reasons, "when power to flattery bows".

KING LEAR marks the company's triumphant return to live, in-person performances after the originally scheduled 2020 season was postponed due to the pandemic. The production is the first in The New Spruce Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater recently constructed and situated underneath the towering spruce trees on the Shakespeare & Company campus. Its 552 comfortable seats provide an ideal venue that harkens back a bit to what it may have been like for patrons of the bard's works at the time of their original presentation.

BWW Review: KING LEAR at Shakespeare & Company
MaConnia Chesser and Jennie M. Jadow
Photo by Katie McKellick

The once powerful King Lear chooses to divide his kingdom among his three daughters, and so begins one of Shakespeare's most moving tragedies. At the crucial point of relinquishing his realm, Lear demands to know which of his daughters loves him the most. His ambitious older daughters answer with false praise and lavish flattery, however his youngest daughter, who does truly love him, answers with honesty. Wildly unsatisfied with her response, Lear's rage sets in motion catastrophic consequences. Ultimately stripped of his privilege and its trappings, Lear must reckon with his own humanity.

BWW Review: KING LEAR at Shakespeare & Company
Christopher Lloyd
Photo: Katie McKellick

Christopher Lloyd leads the talented cast in the title role. Any preconceived notions based on Lloyd's previous roles, perhaps most notably that of Doc Brown in the BACK TO THE FUTURE franchise, will quickly fall by the wayside. His command of the role and its undeniably significant demands, is powerful and impressive. Lloyd's portrayal of the King's decent into madness, is both visceral and palpable, as well as visual.

The supporting cast includes Jonathan Epstein as the Earl of Kent; Nigel Gore as the Earl of Gloucester; Bryce Michael Wood as Edmund, Gloucester's illegitimate son; MaConnia Chesser as Goneril, Lear's eldest daughter; David Bertoldi as the Duke of Albany, Goneril's husband also Oswald, steward of Goneril; Jennie M. Jadow as Regan, Lear's middle daughter; Ryan Winkles as the Duke of Cornwall, Regan's husband; Jasmine Cheri Rush as Cordelia, Lear's youngest daughter; Nome SiDone as the King of France, suitor to Cordelia also Edgar, Gloucester's son; Devante Owens as the Duke of Burgundy, suitor to Cordelia; and Shakespeare & Company Artistic Director, Allyn Burrows as Fool, to Lear. Most of whom will be familiar from their previous appearances, all of whom display ample talent and skill. Evidence of Director, Nicole Ricciardi's is also abundant.

Due to weather, the performance had to be moved indoors midway through. The cast and company handled the interruption without missing a beat. It also provided an amusing and somewhat ironic nod to sound designer Amy Altadonna.

Taking nothing away from the flawless work of all involved, seeing Allyn Burrows on stage is delightful. His mockery yet, unwavering support and dedication to Lear leaves no doubt as to Burrows' mastery of Shakespeare's work. So too, does the lockstep level of interplay between he and Lloyd in particular, as well as all members of the cast despite the varying stages of their career development.

BWW Review: KING LEAR at Shakespeare & Company
David Bertoldi, Jonathan Epstein, Christopher Lloyd, and Ryan Winkles
Photo by Katie McKellick

Fans of Shakespeare and high-quality theatre alike, heed these words of encouragement. Get thee to The New Spruce Theatre at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox and experience KING LEAR for thyself.

A video trailer can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/571224945

Visit https://www.shakespeare.org/ for tickets and information.


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