By Ryan McGreal
Published August 22, 2008
The tragic Lear's Shadow boils Shakespeare's King Lear down to its essence: not the conflict between an insecure father and his treacherous daughters but rather the interplay between a foolish ruler and his wise jester.
In this stirring adaptation by Ed Heidt and Justin M. Sullivan, the Fool (Heidt) is the real star. By turns a mischievous Puck with twinkling eyes and a grave, dutiful servant, the Fool guides both Lear and the audience through his breakdown and dissolution.
Lear himself (L. John Cieslinski) undergoes a remarkable transformation from the imperious king thundering his edicts out of a steely countenance to a despairing shell of a man, stripped of his confidence and dignity and ultimately laid bare after witnessing the demise of his most beloved daughter Cordelia (Sullivan).
The turning point is, of course, Lear's famous soliloquy:
I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall - I will do such things -
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep
No, I'll not weep:
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I'll weep.
Sullivan turns double duty as the unfaithful Regan and Heidt doubles as Goneril. The costumes, like the set, are minimal, yet calculated to effect their jump between characters.
All in all, a brave and worthy interpretation of a much-covered classic.