Shakespeare’s masterful tragedy, King Lear, gets a breath of new life at A Noise Within. The performance’s staging is set in an indeterminate time period and deals with the universal themes of familial responsibilities, loyalty and power. A Noise Within’s production incorporates stark scene changes, skillful special effects and intense characters.
The plot follows King Lear, an elderly ruler, who has decided to end his reign and divide his country among his three daughters, Cordelia, Regan, and Goneril. The corrupt and deceitful Regan and Goneril tell him what they think he would most like to hear; the daughter that truly loves him, Cordelia, flatly but sincerely tells him an unvarnished truth – that she loves him as a daughter should. Lear disowns Cordelia, and splits the kingdom between Regan and Goneril, setting in motion the great tragedy that befalls all of the characters.
“The breakdown of a nation runs concurrent with Lear’s mental decline. At the beginning of the play, see a man at the zenith of his power, a modern day dictator who is feared and has never heard the word ‘no.’ The world we enter is a violent, callous one. At the end, we see a man transformed,” said ANW Artistic Director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.
The tragedy is offset by Kasey Mahaffey’s clever portrayal of The Fool. As in many of Shakespeare’s plays, The Fool is one of the only truth-tellers. He wittily tells King Lear the truths he does not want to hear – both about the betrayal of his daughters and the deterioration of his mind.
“I feel that I know Lear,” said Artistic Director, Geoff Elliott, who plays Lear. “He is stripped of everything, and must face his worst demons to find tenderness and uncompromising love in a very violent world. Lear spends so much of the play terrified of losing his mind. Anyone who goes through a similar self-investigation can’t help but ask ‘am I sane?’ as so much of the world we live in seems insane.”
The compelling performance of King Lear is part of A Noise Within’s 2016-2017 season, Beyond Our Wildest Dreams. After Lear, ANW will stage ‘Man of La Mancha’ by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion, and based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote. In this play, Don Quixote, played by Geoff Elliott, lives in his a fantasy world full of love, chivalry, windmill-armed monsters and the quest for imagined greatness.
“La Mancha is about the power of imagination – and how important it is onstage and in our own lives. It’s a play that truly represents the transformative power of the theatre; a perfect way to end our 25th Anniversary season,” says Rodriguez-Elliott.
King Lear will run through May 6. Visit http://www.anoisewithin.org/plays/ for more information.
A Noise Within is located at 3352 East Foothill Boulevard.