A man in power who has never been told “No” demands absolute love. When his ego is not perfectly satisfied, he goes crazy. Shakespeare had a knack for writing stories that would sound familiar for centuries. It is his KING LEAR that is doing so right now at A Noise Within (ANW) in Pasadena.
The Bard’s KING LEAR is an elderly King who decides to end his reign and divide his country among his three daughters. Two of the daughters tell him exactly what he wants to hear, but the youngest one, and the one who truly loves him, tells him only the truth. The problem is that the truth is not what the king wants to hear, so poor Princess Cordelia is disowned and the kingdom cut into halves, which begins a chain of tragic events to everyone’s demise.
At ANW King Lear is played by Geoff Elliott. As an ANW resident artist (he’s also the Artistic Director of the company), I’ve grown to expect good performances from Elliott, but here, as Lear, he is outstanding. Not only has he changed his physical appearance for the part (long hair, long beard), but he seems to understand Lear and his slow deterioration into madness. Trisha Miller and Arie Thompson are debuting with ANW as the mean daughters Goneril and Regan, and Erika Soto rejoins ANW as Cordelia. Seventeen actors complete the cast, directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.
ANW has placed the story in modern times, so rather than a king, Lear looks more like a modern day dictator. The stage is simple, yet attractive and telling. The backdrop looks like a high concrete wall that would keep everything and everyone under control. There are some tables and chairs that are moved in and out of the stage quickly and when needed, but one’s attention is kept on the actors rather than on stage pieces. Only a tall ladder made me cringe at one point, when the Fool (Kasey Mahaffy) ventured down it unattended. I’m still not sure whether that was intentional.
KING LEAR is a complete play as far as pulling on your emotions goes. It will excite you with knife fights, make you laugh with witty lines, endear you with loving moments, and at least once horrify you – the Earl of Gloucester (played by the talented Apollo Dukakis) loses his eyes at the hand of the Duke of Cornwall (Jeremy Rabb), and though you know it’s all red paint, you still squirm in your seat.
I enjoyed KING LEAR at ANW thoroughly. It is on the lengthy side – two-and-a-half hours including a 15 minute intermission – but The Bard provided excellent material that ANW is delivering well. It is definitely worth seeing.
KING LEAR will perform on selected dates through May 6, 2017. Tickets can be purchased at ANoiseWithin.org or by calling (626) 356-3100. Single tickets are $44, and student rush with ID an hour before performance $20. A Noise Within is located at 3352 E. Foothill Blvd in Pasadena 91107.
Photo: Geoff Elliott at King Lear at ANW / credit Craig Schwartz
FREE report: “Seven Reasons why you should hire a professional home inspector before listing your home for sale.”
Are you ready to sell your Pasadena-area home? Learn how you can sell your home faster and at a higher price with a professional home pre-inspection. Click below to download this FREE report: “Seven Reasons why you should hire a professional home inspector before listing your home for sale.” It’s a real eye-opener that will help you increase the value of your house and sell it quicker.
And, if you are moving to Pasadena, we can help you. With more than 50 years of combined experience, we know the territory and can find the best property for you.
Visit us at Around Town Pasadena for more about Pasadena restaurants and food, great real estate, art and culture, and shopping and fashion. We post new and exciting features for you four or five times a week.