King Lear OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

  • NY TIMES

  • DAILY NEWS

  • TM

  • AMNY

  • EXETUNT

Opening Night:
March 14, 2014
Closing:
May 4, 2014

Theater: Polonsky Shakespeare Center / 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY, 11217

Synopsis: 

Six major productions of King Lear in London, Stratford, Canada and New York, What does it say about us culturally that there are so many? About a King. Written for a King. But, what is a King? Five of the productions staged by men – only one by a woman: Arin Arbus directing the two-time Olivier Award nominee Michael Pennington. What will one of England’s greatest classical actors and this young American artist (“Most talented new director to emerge in 2009″ New York Times) uncover in this story of the fracturing of the state, family and self?

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF King Lear

    Shakespeare Reimagined, Once Quietly, and Once Very Loud

    Ben Brantley

    March 27, 2014: King Lear has lowered its voice, the better to be heard more clearly. The bluster quotient has been toned down in Arin Arbus’s thoughtful and affecting interpretation of this most daunting of tragedies, which opened on Thursday night at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Oh, don’t worry. Thunder still rumbles, swords still clack noisily, and men still shout in defiance at the unbearable cruelties of the gods. Blood flows copiously enough to unsettle the squeamish, and that long-awaited fifth-act chorus of “howls” is appropriately loud and harrowing.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF King Lear

    ‘King Lear’: Theater review

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    March 27, 2014: As the addled monarch in King Lear, Michael Pennington wears a fur-collared coat that’s rich in texture and plummy in tone — just like his voice. That’s fitting for this spare but powerful production from Theatre for a New Audience that places a value on Shakespeare’s text over tricked-out visuals. Who needs ’em when the poetry packs a wallop? Pennington, who’s 70 and a Brit, can talk the talk. He’s racked up a mile-long list of classic credits — but he’s rarely in New York. So he makes this appearance really count. Pennington is average-sized, but seems to grow to twice his height at times. When his enraged Lear thunders, “I will do such things!” it’s as unsettling as the inevitable — and very bloody — eye-gouging. But what’s really striking is this two-time Olivier Award nominee’s uncanny depth of connection with his fellow actors in quieter scenes. Lear’s encounters with his beloved but cast-away Cordelia, sightless friend Gloucester and bedraggled Edgar, who’s posing as a crazy beggar, feel more intriguing and honest than ever.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF King Lear

    King Lear - Theatre for a New Audience offers a solid entry in 2014's battle of the Lears.

    Zachary Stewart

    March 27, 2014: If you have children, you might eye them with greater suspicion after a viewing of William Shakespeare's King Lear at Theatre for a New Audience's Polonsky Shakespeare Center. The serviceable production dots the i's and crosses the t's in this tragedy of aging without wisdom. If you like your Shakespeare without a lot of auteurship, this is the production for you. Lear (Michael Pennington) is the aging king of Britain. He decides to retire from governing, but not before dividing his kingdom among his three daughters based on their protestations of love for him. While his older daughters, Goneril (Rachel Pickup) and Regan (Bianca Amato), submit to this charade with purple prose and exaggerated supplication, his youngest, Cordelia (Lilly Englert), is having none of it. In response, Lear disinherits her. Of course, he quickly discovers that he shouldn't have put his faith in mere words: Goneril and Regan collude to deprive their father of his remaining power. Meanwhile, Edmund (Chandler Williams), the bastard son of the Earl of Gloucester (Christopher McCann), plots to turn the jealous sisters against each other and seize power for himself, defying his lowly birth and, in the process, throwing his father and "legitimate" brother, Edgar (Jacob Fishel) under the bus. In true Shakespearean fashion, lots of sex and violence ensues.

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  • AM NEW YORK REVIEW OF King Lear

    Theater review: 'King Lear' -- 3 stars

    Matt Windman

    March 27, 2014: Whereas multiple productions of Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet were seen last year, 2014 is shaping up to the year of King Lear, that good old family tragedy of apocalyptic proportions. Back in January, an English production starring Frank Langella played BAM. During the summer, it will be done at Shakespeare in the Park with John Lithgow. In the fall, London’s Globe Theatre will offer the play at NYU with Joseph Marcell. At present, it is being done by Theatre for a New Audience at its gorgeous new space in Brooklyn. The title role is being played by Michael Pennington, an English actor and director who may be best known for a bit part in Return of the Jedi.

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  • EXETUNT REVIEW OF King Lear

    King Lear at Polonsky Shakespeare Center

    Molly Grogan

    March 27, 2014: One of the truer moments in director Arin Arbus’ King Lear at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center comes at the close of Act 4, when the mad and wandering Lear meets the blinded Gloucester and his son Edgar on the cliffs above Dover. Although it is at this point in the play that Lear’s disordered state of mind is at its strangest, under Arbus’ direction, the scene encapsulates the production’s prevailing theme, namely the moral and physical wreckage of old age and its vulnerability to the ambitions of succeeding generations. As Michael Pennington’s unraveling Lear and Christopher McCann’s distraught Gloucester are forced together by the villainous scheming of their own children, they find fleeting solace in their many decades of shared history, while their resiliency and humor despite the storms life has sent them lead an amazed Edgar (Jacob Fishel) to both laughter and tears.

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