"Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say"

King Lear

By William Shakespeare
Directed by John Basil
American Globe Theatre
145 West 46th Street (869-9809)
Equity showcase (closes Mar. 28)
Review by Sourabh Chatt

Shakespeare's King Lear deals with how children and parents treat each other, whether human society is the product of nature or something we create so as to live better than animals do, and whether human nature is fundamentally selfish or generous. The American Globe Theatre's production is a dazzling interpretation.

King Lear, deciding on how to retire from his throne, calls on his three daughters to declare their love for him. While Regan and Goneril profess their undying love for their father, Cordelia, the youngest and Lear's favorite, is unwilling to lie and simply states that she loves her father as much as any daughter should, no more, no less. Lear, furious at such candidness, banishes Cordelia from his sight. From this point in the play, Regan and Goneril send his life into a downward spiral, in which Lear at last finds a measure of redemption.

John Basil created a marvel with his 15-member cast. Joel Friedman gave a breathtaking performance as King Lear, commanding the stage with his presence. His entrance into the last scene, exhausted from carrying Cordelia on his back, was a fitting end to the energy he poured into this role. Zachary Ehrenfreund's portrayal of the treacherous Edmund was a perfect counterpart to the valiant Edgar, beautifully played by Dennis Turney. Mr. Ehrenfreund's forceful monologues, playing "should I" or "should I not" with the audience, were quite engaging. Alyson Reim's performance as the conniving Goneril shone in the second half. Other noteworthy performances included Richard Fay's loyal Kent, Michael Thurston's misguided Gloucester, and particularly Mike Finesilver's Fool, capturing the audience with his mixture of physical and witty humor.

The nakedness of the set by James A. Bazewicz, comprising three large cubes and a wooden fence, complemented the production. Richard Latta's simple but effective lighting and David Pinkard's sound design were commendable. Dan O'Driscoll's fight choreography was believable, especially during the final duel between Edmund and Edgar. The pseudo-modern costumes by Cathy Maguire were questionable, especially in the case of Lear, who was adorned in a pilot's overall and Chinese slippers. (Also featuring Robert Chaney, Ray Crisara, Ed Gilmartin, Terry Kaye, Elizabeth Keefe, Kurt Kingsley, John Moss, and Stephen Shaffer.)

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 2
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 1999 Sourabh Chatt