King Lear BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe
  • NY TIMES

  • DEADLINE

  • VARIETY

  • HR

  • TIME OUT

Opening Night:
April 4, 2019
Closing:
July 7, 2019

Theater: Cort Theatre / 138 West 48th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Once every decade or so, a great actor comes to Broadway and gives a performance that reminds us why we go to the theater. Last year, that actor was Glenda Jackson in Three Tall Women. This season, Jackson is back on Broadway, and she’s climbing the tallest mountain any actor can climb. Glenda Jackson is King Lear.

The Tony and two-time Academy Award winner plays Lear for 19 weeks only in an all new production directed by Tony winner Sam Gold (A Doll’s House Part 2, Fun Home), leading a cast that includes Tony winner Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans), Elizabeth Marvel (Other Desert Cities), Aisling O’Sullivan (Raw), Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), John Douglas Thompson (Jitney) and Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson (The Affair). King Lear will feature an original score by the legendary composer Philip Glass.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF King Lear

    Review: Glenda Jackson Rules a Muddled World in ‘King Lear’

    Ben Brantley

    April 4, 2019: Could we please have a little quiet? There’s a great actress onstage at the Cort Theater, and I’d like to hear what she’s saying. That was the way I felt during much of Sam Gold’s production of “King Lear,” which opened on Thursday night with the extraordinary Glenda Jackson in the title role. It should surprise no one that Ms. Jackson is delivering a powerful and deeply perceptive performance as the most royally demented of Shakespeare’s monarchs. But much of what surrounds her in this glittery, haphazard production seems to be working overtime to divert attention from that performance. That includes a perfectly lovely string quartet — playing original music by Philip Glass, no less — that under other circumstances I would have enjoyed listening to.

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  • DEADLINE REVIEW OF King Lear

    Glenda Jackson Earns Crown In Broadway’s ‘King Lear’: Review

    Greg Evans

    April 4, 2019: With the arrival of her mighty Lear, Glenda Jackson has, in the span of a year, provided Broadway with twin portraits of once towering figures humbled by age – last year a matriarch in Three Tall Women, now theater’s ultimate patriarch in King Lear, opening tonight at the Cort Theatre. I’ve no doubt she could come back next spring as young Harry Potter if she sets her mind to it. So ferocious, so sinewy is her take on Shakespeare’s lion in winter that those famously spoiled daughters and their menfolk would seem wise to send their regrets and just not show up to any family reunions. Lucky for us, they give as good as they get. Directed by Sam Gold (A Doll’s House, Part 2) , produced by Scott Rudin and running through July 7, Broadway’s latest Lear features a cast that include’s The Affair‘s much missed Ruth Wilson, the note perfect Jayne Houdyshell (like Jackson, playing male) and that doomed libertine from Game of Thrones Pedro Pascal. Given a wickedly sly look by scenic designer Miriam Buether (all that Trump Tower gold can’t be unintentional), this Lear is a knock-out.

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  • VARIETY REVIEW OF King Lear

    Broadway Review: ‘King Lear’ Starring Glenda Jackson

    Marilyn Stasio

    April 4, 2019: Shakespeare nailed it: “Though she be little, she is fierce.” Glenda Jackson may look frail, but the 82-year-old legend performs the noble task of rescuing director Sam Gold’s rickety Broadway production of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. To be sure, the salvage job is all technique. But although Jackson fails to wring tears, let alone blood, from this production, the sheer intelligence of her performance makes it memorable. There are plenty of references to Trump onstage, most obviously in the tacky gold paneling of the king’s throne room and the intentionally vulgar touches to Ann Roth’s costumes for Goneril (a scary Elizabeth Marvel) and Regan (Aisling O’Sullivan, ditto), the two witches — er, sisters — who flatter their vain father into giving them the lion’s share of his vast kingdom. Only the elegantly subdued gown worn by the youngest sister, Cordelia (Ruth Wilson, who projects both brains and beauty), indicates who has the true class in this money-grubbing family. Wilson also doubles as an agile Fool, tenderly so in the scenes on the heath in which she comforts the mad king.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF King Lear

    'King Lear': Theater Review

    David Rooney

    April 4, 2019: After winning a long-overdue Tony Award last season for Edward Albee's Three Tall Women, Jackson returns to Broadway for her second encounter with Shakespeare's crumbling sovereign, a role she first took on as her return from politics to stage acting in a different production in London in 2016. Not having seen that performance, I can't make comparisons. But there's definitely a sense here of long, hard investigation, of unforgiving scrutiny of the character's narcissism, slowly giving way to aching compassion, both for his self-destructive folly and his cruel misuse by those he has favored. Like most recent productions directed by Gold, who generally is more incisive as a collaborator on new works with hands-on writers than on classic or established texts where he's flying solo, this King Lear will be polarizing. Gold makes a lot of audacious choices, many of which you might disagree with, but they are seldom uninteresting. This uneven production doesn't match the taut muscularity of his brilliant Othello, with Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo, but he stages the drama with vigorous energy and bold idiosyncrasies that locate it firmly within our current unhinged world.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF King Lear

    King Lear

    Adam Feldman

    April 4, 2019: “Nothing will come of nothing,” chides King Lear when his favorite daughter, the honest Cordelia, refuses to dote on him as richly as he demands. Enraged, he disinherits her, dividing her share of his realm between her honey-tongued but stone-hearted sisters, Goneril and Regan. From this vain fit of pique the rest of Lear’s troubles derive; and at this moment in Sam Gold’s handsome, scattered staging, one begins to sense that this production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, with the estimable but withholding Glenda Jackson in the title role, may not deliver the greatness it promises. In his pivotal rejection of Cordelia, this Lear seems less furious than peevish, which proves true of Jackson’s performance throughout. So deeply does Jackson adopt the king’s sense of entitlement, perhaps, that she barely stoops to emotional display at all. With her cracked cheeks and acidic voice, the great English actor—who made a stunning return to the Broadway stage last year in Three Tall Women—ploughs through the text with withering dismissiveness. She is small and nearly self-contained: declamatory and well-spoken, but detached from the action. Her Lear never seems to lose his marbles; he merely seems inclined to play with them alone, leaving everyone around him to scrounge for other games.

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