Break heart; I prithee break!

The opening of Nancy Meckler’s Lear at the Globe is a bit bumpy—literally–as the cast enacts a Harry-potter style luggage trolley “trip” through a seemingly solid door. But if one expects an inventive use of doors, windows and traps, one will be disappointed—staging is not the strength of this production, which is a mostly two-dimensional affair. This, however, doesn’t diminish Kevin McNally’s terrific interpretation of Shakespeare’s ancient monarch. Particularly in the mad scenes, McNally exhibits a range that will probably surprise audience members who know him only as Gibbs from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. Anjana Vasan is an affecting Cordelia, and Emily Bruni and Sirine Saba do creditable turns as her less than virtuous sisters. There was some disagreement about Loren O’Dair who plays the fool—some thought her histrionics got in the way of the development of the character while others appreciated the way that her seemingly inappropriate and potentially dangerous behavior communicated “foolish” truths to Lear. Meckler made the interesting choice to cast Saskia Reeves as Kent, Lear’s faithful follower. I love her work, but not every one thought her performance as compelling (even if they appreciated the choice to cast a woman in the role). Traditionally, just before the curtain drops, Edgar and his illegitimate (and bad) brother Edmund reconcile. Meckler made the curious choice to omit this, so that the end (Cordelia, her sisters, Lear, Cornwall all dead and Kent on the way) is even darker than usual.

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