Top positive review
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A different, welcome perspective
on August 11, 2014
Before seeing John Lithgow's Lear at Shakespeare in the Park I luckily picked up RSC/Modern Library edition to read beforehand. It's very, very good. Peter Brooks' 1960s production is highlighted but it is misleading to say it is overemphasized. Trevor Nunn, Adrian Noble and Deborah Warner's productions are all discussed, indeed they are interviewed in the back pages. And other productions, including foreign ones are considered. This bringing Lear to life is a wonderful perspective, and one that is often missed in classrooms or by a straightforward read.
Our understanding of the play is seasoned with delightful tidbits and trivia: Lear has been produced more times since WWII than the 400 years prior; until the early 20th century, producers routinely changed the play's bleak, devastating ending (in some versions Cordelia and Edgar live happily ever after!) A Japanese production by Yukio Ninagawa hurled real boulders across and downstage to emphasize the devastation wrought when the natural order cracks., causing more concern for the actors' lives then their performances. Good stuff and very informative.
And then of course there is the play. Which is as good as theater gets.