First Nighter: Gregory Doran's Sumptuous "King Lear" Production, with Antony Sher, Now on Stateside Screens
Crosby, Stills and Nash may have warned parents to "teach your children well" after spending a few hours with Lear and Gloucester
As the 4th Centenary of Shakespeare's death draws to a close I'm wondering whether humanity has really changed over the past 400 years? Is there now more happiness, fulfilment and peace on our planet? If there is, it's hard to see.
Romance is all well and good as a source of artistic fodder. But the love of a father or mother for their children is presumed to be unconditional. What happens when a parent receives a stunning challenge regarding their child or delivers a startling ultimatum to their offspring? Complications quickly ensue.
Being an artist in all its multiplicities of characteristics and talents, is among the most demanding of all demands that we can make of ourselves. We have entered a universe of complexity and simplicity, discovery and delusion. It will never finish. It will never be entirely revealed.
From the very first scene when the aging monarch -- the King of all Britain -- decides to step down from the throne and divide his kingdom among his three daughters by testing their love for him, I knew something was very wrong. Who in their right mind would put their children in that situation?
Why are we so drawn these days to the tale of Lear and his dysfunctional family? John Lithgow, the award-winning actor and writer, is playing him right now in The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park production. This week he talks to Bill.
This great World Cup 2014 of shocks and beautiful, counterattacking football continued on, in its three Friday games, with even more treats being offered up this weekend -- Germany vs Ghana on June 21, Belgium vs Russia, and Dempsey's USA vs Ronaldo's Portugal on June 22.
It would be folly to claim this is the greatest Lear yet seen, but it's surely no exaggeration to declare it's right up there with the best of them.
Plays are revelations. Good plays, that is, and the better a play, the more revelatory it can be. And let's just say King Lear -- now at Theatre For a New Audience with Arin Arbus directing Michael Pennington in the title role -- easily falls into the better-play category.
Frank Langella is doing a completely respectable King Lear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey in William Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name. But wait. Better be more specific, since in discussing the daunting role, the actor is on record as saying he makes a very deliberate point of never giving the same performance twice.
Political dramas in the nation's capital usually partake more of Scandal or SNL than of Shakespeare, but we may need the Bard's unrivaled eye for profound family discord to tell the full story of the Cheneys right now. There are more than a few similarities between former Vice President Dick Cheney and King Lear: old men obsessed with the loss of power, attempting to pass their kingdoms on to ambitious daughters, each served by a loyal Fool for whom he cared to a pitiable degree. Cheney's even had the (White House) court jester's name of "Scooter." Like Lear, Dick Cheney seems destined to watch his family torn apart by his daughters' ambitions and beliefs -- and his own hubris.
Samuel Beckett wanted his plays done exactly as he wrote them and as he particularized them in his stage directions. Don't think of adding even a second tree, for instance, to the Waiting for Godot set.