King Lear and I

Mar 20th, 2019

By Christin Pounds, Burlington Writers Workshop 

A preview of King Lear, performed by the Actors From the London Stage on Thursday, March 28 through Saturday, March 30 in FlynnSpace.

I love to read. I found a friend in a good book when I was a young child and have had one on hand ever since. It’s a compulsion akin to Facebook scrolling or Netfilx binge watching, and at times feels like an addictive behavior. I scour the literature blogs and lists to keep my personal reading list padded with choices. I love the classics and make sure I’m reading the old stuff with the new, and I’m not afraid of lengthy Russian literature.

There is, however, a glaring exemption from my lifelong pursuit of the next read: Shakespeare. While I have lived under the impression that I would find his writing inaccessible, or perhaps accessible only under the scrutiny of an advanced degree, I have to admit I’m often impressed by the acute expressed laser he employs to divide the human condition-snippets that make their way into other works of literature I come across secondhand. Maybe it’s the Early Modern English he uses to my great consternation. Maybe it’s because I have not read many plays and find the imagery difficult to discern without interpretation. Or the neck ruffles.

Whatever the case, I’ve gotten by with silent nods and knowing smiles when Shakespeare makes his way into a conversation, coolly preserving my status among my unsuspecting booky friends. I’m happy to say my Shakespearean ignorance will end on March 28 when I attend the Actors From the London Stage’s performance of King Lear in FlynnSpace. With flex seating up to 200, I love this venue for it’s dimmed intimacy and nearness to the work being done on stage. The Actors From the London Stage is one of the oldest Shakespearean touring troupes in the world, and FlynnSpace is an aptly suited setting.

King Lear, monarch in ancient Britain, is putting his affairs in order to divide his kingdom among three daughters, Cordelia, Regan, and Goneril. When asked to elaborate the extent of their love for their father, Goneril and Regan launch into adoring speeches, full of false adulation, hopefully ingratiating themselves into their father’s generosity. Cordelia answers honestly and with temperance, unwilling to compete with her sisters’ insincere flattery of the king. The favorite daughter’s dispassion produces the opposite effect on the king, which propels the rest of the story to retribution, betrayal, and great tragedy.

In an effort to ensure my best chance at enjoyment and appreciation of the production, I’m going back to my comfortable cultural interface, the humble page, to read King Lear in preparation. I consider this my entry point into the mystery that is Shakespeare and look forward to an evening of deep lexical concentration watching the piece unfold onstage, as intended. I am promised there will be a continuous undulation of sibling rivalry, moral high grounds, tragic endings, mad rants, and unmet parental expectations with grave consequences. I’m sold.

Filed in: Theater 

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