Monday, September 22, 2014

Review of King Lear at Chicago Shakespeare

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called King Lear. It was written by William Shakespeare. It was directed by Barbara Gaines and it was about King Lear (Larry Yando) who has three daughters and he was giving his kingdom away to his daughters and he loved his youngest daughter Cordelia (Nehassaiu deGannes) the most. (Don't tell her sisters!) And his two older daughters, Goneril (Bianca LaVerne Jones) and Regan (Jessiee Datino), really went overboard with telling him how much they loved him. Then when it was Cordelia's turn, she just said "I love you as a daughter should." And then King Lear gets really angry. Then the rest of the play is him realizing he did the wrong thing and realizing that he shouldn't have given any land to his other daughters because it was all just a plot to get all his power and land. This play is about betrayal, love, government, and how Lear can't think about what his actions will make other people feel like or will make him feel soon. I had a lot of fun at the play as well as it being sad. I think that is a great combination because then there is a mystery to the play. Just because there was a horrible thing doesn't mean there is going to have to be another horrible thing next--sometimes you get a funny part.

I thought the man who played King Lear was amazing because he made King Lear funny and made you able to sympathize with him, but you're also kind of angry with him because he is very gullible and he never really tries to learn anything about his faults and how they cause the things around him. I thought that the opening was really funny because it opens up with him trying to change the music on his radio, but then it keeps not being the song he wants and then he throws the controller on the floor. And then the man who is standing next to him pulls out another one. It shows you that he is very rich that he has so many of these he can break one every few seconds. He deals with his anger by throwing things and not by thinking over what his problem is. You like him least when he sends off Cordelia and you like him most when he goes back to Cordelia. He starts out being angry at Cordelia and then he realizes his mistake.

My favorite scene was when the rain happened. The sound effects (Lindsay Jones) and lighting (Michael Gend) were amazing and terrifying because the thunder was so loud and the lighting was like lightning. The intensity was like if somebody was really in the storm because it was so loud and you didn't know when it was going to happen. When the scene was happening it was when King Lear was going crazy. I think those two things went together because the storm was kind of going crazy and the storm was making him crazy and you felt like you were in his mind because of course he wasn't really commanding the clouds but it seemed like he was. This is one of the only plays in Shakespeare where there is no magic. Like in Romeo and Juliet there's the magic elixir, in Hamlet there's a ghost, and in Julius Caesar the prophecies actually come true and the blood fountain dream. Edmund (Jesse Luken) lies about a dream that he has about his brother Edgar (Steve Haggard) doing wrong. What is weird is that Lear is kind of like Prospero in the storm scene, but Prospero is actually commanding the storm with magic. Lear also sees Edgar as a philosopher when he is dressed up like a crazy person and pretending he is a crazy person. It makes the story seem more real because of how little magic there is. If this story is real, it makes it very very sad.

I thought it was cool how Cordelia was a general because usually she is just a princess in a tower, and they made her seem more capable. And it made it seem more like when Lear disowned her, she didn't just go and marry a jerk. France (Christopher Chmelik) let her have freedom to do whatever she wanted to do.

I thought that the Fool (Ross Lehman) might have been in love with King Lear because of how he treated him. He treated him very nicely and when he was sad he would try to make him feel better. It was not like a fool usually would, like telling a bunch of different jokes; he would actually comfort him by giving him a hug. And King Lear gave the fool his coat so he wouldn't be cold and stuff like that. I think that King Lear was in love with the Fool because of that.

Edgar and Edmund were not very good brothers because Edmund was trying to get Edgar into trouble with his dad so Edmund would be Gloucester's (Michael Aaron Lindner) favorite child. Edmund was basically the villain in the play but there were also other villains. Like King Lear at the beginning is a villain. And Regan and Goneril and the Duke of Cornwall (Lance Baker) also were evil because two of them put out somebody's eyes and the other one lied in so many ways. I think Edgar has nothing against his brother and you feel sorry for him and just want to shout out from the audience: "He's lying to you! Don't go! Your father loves you!" I thought Steve did a great job at being crazy but not so crazy that you absolutely thought he'd really gone crazy. I liked when he was trying out how he could be crazy in different ways. I remember one where he says a line in like the weirdest way possible--like it doesn't even sound possible that it is crazy--and then he's like, "No." And I just found that funny because usually in Shakespeare when someone is trying to do believable pretending to be something that they are not, they're not very good but they don't know that. Like Bottom thinks that he is the best actor in the world, but actually he is really bad. After a lot of practicing Edgar finds out a way that he can pretend to be crazy. But then when he gets out he realizes he's just facing a bunch of crazy people: the Fool, King Lear, and Gloucester.

People who would like this show are people who like tomboy Cordelias, amazing storm scenes, and stereo controller destruction. I think people should definitely go and see this show because it is funny, scary, and King Lear is amazing! I really liked this show because it made me realize how funny and sad King Lear can be.

Photos: Liz Lauren

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