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Arts & Culture

Pared down 'King Lear' leans hard on script but shows signs of slippage

Photo: Dwayne Green, License: N/A

Dwayne Green

Rusty Thurman, Allan S. Ross, and Kat Connor writhe to the occasion in King Lear.


The celebrated set pieces still work, including Lear's howling tempest, anchored by Ross' screams into the lightning-streaked abyss. (Weirdly, however, the background remains a cheery, sky blue: it's that sort of jarring inattention to detail that frustrates the audience.) Justin Laughlin's Fool strums a mean ukulele — not a skill to be scorned — but otherwise the relationship between King and jester seems just partially limned: here, the Fool is neither a mirror-held-up-to-nature nor the King's BFF.

At over two and a half hours, Lear is clearly a monumental undertaking, and the confusing political machinations of the second half are not for the faint of heart (newcomers to Lear might want to glance at a synopsis at intermission). But the Classic Theatre Company's production maintains a welcome drumbeat of doom. When Lear reunites with his daughters at the end of the play, it's the Bard at his best: all the elements of the first scene rearranged into a grim new tableau, with the arms of the king now cradling something far more dear, and far more moving, than a mere radio microphone. •

King Lear

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Anthony Ciaravino
$10-$25
8pm Fri-Sat; 3pm Sun
The Classic Theatre Company
Sterling Houston Theater at Jump-Start
108 Blue Star
(210) 589-8450
classictheatre.org
Through May 27

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