Robin and I went to a Shakespeare play together for the first time this afternoon. Our friend Artfan was in it: King Lear. He wasn't Lear, sorry … he played Burgundy, who has a few lines at the beginning of the play, and then did a few other small parts, one of which had a few more lines (he surprised us on that one by emerging from the wings right in front of our seats). He was good … let's face it, I can't say much because he had a small part, but he carried it off! Afterwards they had a "meet the actors" thingie, and we stuck around for a bit, but it was cold (it was an outdoor theater) so we left before we got a chance to say hi. So if you're reading this, hi Arthur!
For this production, they set Lear in America in the 30s, for no reason I could figure. It didn't get in the way, just seemed pointless. It was fun to see it on stage … I've seen several filmed versions, and of course then they can have real rain and they can do a pro job on Gloucester's eyes, but for this, it was big long sheets of something that they rattled for thunder, and the eye-gouge scenes were gross in a fun way, but not as emotional as they could have been because we were all thinking "whoa, look at that fake eye!"
King Lear rises and/or falls on the performance of the title character. Jeffrey DeMunn did a good job … I can't compare it to Olivier, because the latter was on film, this was live, and oddly enough I prefer filmed versions, all else being equal. He was up to the task, to be sure, and was one of the reasons this was a decent production overall. I don't want to sound like I am damning with faint praise … just noting that this very professional, well-made production didn't take me to the heights too often. We had a good time … keep getting into plays, Arthur!