By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
The cutting (this version clocks in at a fleeting two hours) severs some of the most emotionally substantive lines — such as France's (Montelle Harvey) defense of Lear's spurned daughter, Cordelia (a lovely performance by Tawny Mertes). It would appear that the purpose of the cutting was to focus on the plot, often at the expense of the ideas behind the plot. If the length and grandeur of King Lear is so daunting, perhaps they should have done a shorter play. If the goal of the production is to show how the play-ending invasion from France parallels the melodrama of spaghetti Westerns, that point landed — though to what purpose is unclear.
It's a well-recited and serviceable production.
Bruce Ladd's Irish-brogued Lear belts through the travails of aging and suffering the reduction of his world, with more emotional dexterity than depth. His vigor defies much of the play's point. Because the octogenarian character so obviously appears to be in his 60s, the reference to fourscore in his line "I am a very foolish fond old man/Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less" has been changed to threescore. Though the play can wear many guises, if its centerpiece is an old, foolish king with repeated reference to his age, the man really needs to look old.
Steve Gustafson's John Wayne–ish Gloucester struts with some animal magnetism into his own despair. Nathan Bell's bastard Edmund wisely hangs the character's overt venality in the back of the closet, allowing the lines to do most of the work. And Richard Soto's Native American Kent is on the road to something interesting, stranded in an unexplored concept.
Besides the stock Shakespearean riffs on duplicity and betrayal, this work stands out for its examination of old age, senility and the end of things. It's a play about time, and time expiring. That's an idea that shouldn't be rushed. It needs time to breathe and to settle, and deserves our patience.
OEDIPUS THE TYRANT | By SOPHOCLES, translated by JAMEY HECHT | SHERRY THEATRE, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd. | Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m. | Through March 13 | (818) 325-2055 | brownpapertickets.com/event/149704
KING LEAR | By WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE | Actors Co-op, 1760 N. Gower St., Hlywd. | Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sat. & Sun., 2:30 p.m. | Through March 13 | (323) 462-8460