Every inch a king

Colm Feore is a magnificent King Lear at Stratford. My daughter Alison and I attended the first of the preview performances today and came away overwhelmed by his portrayal of the character. The play doesn’t officially open until May 26 and runs until October. My only concern is that it will be difficult for Feore to maintain the intensity that he displayed today over such a sustained period of almost 50 outings. 

Scott Wentworth’s Gloucester is also excellent as is Edgar, his legitimate son, played by Evan Buliung. The rest of the cast is good too and the costuming is to my taste: the traditional Elizabethan attire with ruffs and doublets. I assumed because this was the first performance in front of an audience, there would be rough spots, but it was flawless. The special effects of the storm while Lear is on the heath, “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks,” were spectacular. The harrowing final scene brought tears to our eyes.

It always amazes me how many phrases from any Shakespearean play are in regular use today. Lear is no exception with “Nothing comes of nothing,” “Many a true word is spoken in jest,” and “I am a man who is more sinned against than sinning.”

As always, a classic play like Lear is relevant across the ages. The two families are so dysfunctional that it could be a modern-day soap opera with wicked sisters, a conniving brother, and a crazy man in the wild. As for the eternal verities, what could be deeper than Lear’s question, “Who is it that can tell me who I am?” Feore, who has played many starring roles at Stratford over the years, has never been better.

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