Directed by Christie Vela
Produced by Shakespeare Dallas
Reviewed by Natalie Shaw
Shakespeare Dallas is an incredible experience, no matter what production you're there to see! The Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre boasts a grand stage at the bottom of a grassy hill, which accommodates audience seating. Patrons who brought blankets to sit on, sit in the front, while those with lawn chairs sit toward the back. An advanced lighting and sound system provide for every seat on the hill to be a good one. Accessible seating is available on a flat-surfaced, concrete area, and covered baseball-stadium style seating is also available for reservation, near the covered bar. Concrete pathways lead to restrooms, full accessible at any point during show. The outdoor "lobby" area houses the Shakespeare Shoppe and concession stand, and is beautifully paved. In my particular production, a shaved ice/ice cream food truck was ready to serve customers during intermission. Patrons are also encouraged to bring their own food, beer, wine and refreshments while they enjoy the show!
Shakespeare Dallas' production of King Lear is brought to us by an exceptionally strong and talented cast who tell the tragic story of a prideful king who misjudges the love his daughters have for him. As he nears the end of his reign, Lear (played by T.A. Taylor) makes official arrangements for his daughters and their husbands to take over their land. His eldest two daughters, Goneril (played by Nicole Berastequi) and Regan (played by Whitney Holotik) express their undying love and respect to their aging father, using flattery and excessive praise. His youngest daughter, Cordelia (played by Thi Le,) however, refuses to play along with this flattery-game, but does reiterate in simple terms that she does, indeed, love her father. This is not sufficient for Lear's pride and Cordelia is cut-off and estranged from her father with her newly-arranged husband, the King of France (played by Doak Rapp) What ensues is a story of the cruel betrayal of Lear by his eldest two daughters, and a heartbreaking separation between Lear and Cordelia.
A parallel story is also told between Lear's close friend, the Earl of Gloucester (played by Ethan Norris) and his two sons, Edgar (played by Carson Wright) nd Edmund (played by Ben Stegmair.) Gloucester and Edgar fall prey to the evil plans of Edmund, who is Gloucester's illegitimate son, as a consequence of adultery with a former mistress. Edmund's plan is contrived to manipulate Edgar out of his inheritance, as well as to manipulate Lear's daughters into handing over their inheritance, as well, in order to contain ultimate power.
King Lear gives warning to the hubris, lies and deceit in which anyone might fall victim. Often times this extreme pride separates us from our loved ones and causes us to miss out on, what could have been, the best memories of our lives, and theirs. As King Lear comes to an end, we have a strong compassion and pity for the innocent victims who fall subject to those characters seeking power and glory. In spite of the tragic deaths and losses, however, Shakespeare provides us with the hope for a better generation--one in which a more humble person will reign.
Experiencing Shakespeare Dallas gives us a modern-day representation of what it might be like to attend a production during Shakespeare's time, with patrons congregating outside the theater space, buying and selling food and goods, while also enjoying the play within. Don't miss one more opportunity to experience Shakespeare Dallas this season! Get your tickets to see this incredible production of King Lear!
Audience Rating: R for violence, blood and mature themes
Running Time: 3 hours with a 15 minute intermission
Accessible Seating: Available
Hearing Devices: Not Available
Sensory Friendly Showing: Not Available
ASL Showing: Not Available
Volume Level: May be loud for some patrons, at times, especially during scene changes with rock music playing.
Noises and Visuals to Prepare For: sounds of thunder, blood, gore, sword fighting
Photos by Alex Rain