Monday, June 23, 2008

Lear is here...

Imagine taking King Lear and distilling it down to 15 minutes with all of the action taking place in the hovel. Three characters only: Lear, Fool and Kent, marching on toward "the promised end."

It is a patchwork quilt of snippets from Shakespeare (King Lear combined with The Tempest, Hamlet, Twelfth Night and more) along with other found texts all referencing themselves and other works. The whole thing ends up behaving similar to a hip-hop song using quotes as a the music used sampling.

The whole piece becomes very tedious - if the audience does not know what it is referencing, they could feel very lost and frustrated by the whole experience. This is where the power of live performance comes into play. If the actors can create enough of a compelling and loving relationship with each other, the audience will be drawn in by that.

And then, there is the story:
The world has turned into a desolate wasteland. Lear, his Fool, and Kent are stranded together in a hovel. While running short on rations, the Fool and Kent struggle to care for the aging Lear. As the King slips further and further into the recesses of his mind he becomes increasingly difficult and angry. In his last throws of desperation, he stands to deliver the “Blow winds” speech in attempts to transcend his situation; but instead he forgets his words. He is left with nothing – not even his fool – and in this emptiness he finally understands. He kneels and prays for the wretched of the earth. He retreats to his throne and prepares for the cycle to repeat itself.

It is a surrealist retelling of King Lear for the new millennia. Trapped in the hovel of his mind, Lear must come to terms with the deterioration of his body as he faces his mortality. This new telling examines what old age means with the advent of technology to sustain the body longer than the mind was designed to endure.

Lear's Last
June 23-25
Bailiwick Repertory Theatre
Opening tonight!

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