KCST pulls off a swashbuckling King Lear
Written by Bwog Staff
We didn’t quite get there after the first show…but you can still see King Lear at the Black Box at 2:00 and 8:00 today. Reserve tickets at [email protected]
The packet gave a stomach-churning pop as Cornwall clawed at Gloucester’s eye, splattering stage blood across his face. The audience groaned and squealed; several people even covered their eyes in disgust. An hour earlier, they’d been laughing at Gloucester’s light-hearted jokes about his bastard son’s bawdy conception. KCST’s King Lear is far from perfect, but it is undeniably gripping. Director Dan Blank brings us both the humor and horror of Shakespeare’s legendary tragedy—an improvement on any Lit Hum class.
Jason Resnikoff comports himself admirably as Lear in anger and madness, an impressive feat for a role that veteran actors often save for the end of their career. His loud, intense delivery of lines works well for most of the show as he grows in anger, but it fails at the beginning and end, when he deals with Cordelia and delicate emotional moments. These weaknesses aside, his lead performance solidly grounds the show, as it must in Lear. His transition to madness is executed clearly and powerfully, and his switch to a prancing fool earned some bitter laughter from the audience at the black-humor of the situation.
The cast supporting him varies in quality and experience. KCST is devoted to providing theater experience to almost anyone interested–an admirable goal, but one which often results in mediocre ensembles and supporting roles. Lear suffers from their openness to some extent, but the leading cast members are delightful enough to make up for it. Edmund in particular, played by Jake Green, succeeds at wooing the audience, inviting them to laugh at his endless machinations. Overall, the actors make the text clear, and most of them even seem to understand what they’re saying.
King Lear runs a solid three hours, yet for all that, only two seats in the packed house were empty after intermission. I overheard the two leaving as I returned, and one said “We’ll have to come back tomorrow, but I wish we could stay.” For a free, long show, a stable audience is the most tangible vote of support. And this testimony is the bottom line: KCST’s King Lear is fun, effective, and engaging.