A dysfunctional family is never a good thing. A royal dysfunctional family is even worse.
William Shakespeare’s King Lear is the story of a king who gives up his throne to his daughters. While his sanity slowly fades, the kingdom falls apart.
Last night, King Lear made its premiere at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
King Lear (Anthony Sher) has decided to step down from his thrown. He has three daughters and declares that she who loves him best will receive the biggest largest share of his kingdom. His elder daughters, Goneril (Nia Gwynne) and Regan (Kelly Williams) proclaim their love for their father. His youngest daughter, Cordelia (Mimi Ndiweni) is not as vocal about her love for her father as her sisters are. As a result, she is banished from her father’s kingdom.
The story then snowballs into treachery, madness and war.
While the play is a bit slow, it’s very well done. Shakespeare was making a point not just about family, but about politics, which can both be incredibly messy sometimes. Anthony Sher, in the title role, plays Lear with a mixture of conceit, insanity, foolishness and ultimately regret. It is a powerful play that for obvious reasons, is still as relevant in 2018 as it was in 1606.
I recommend it.
King Lear is playing at the BAM Harvey Theater (651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn NY 11217) until April 29th. Check the website for showtimes and tickets.
Earlier today, I saw Young Frankenstein (1974). A satire of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, as only Mel Brooks can conceive of, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) is the American grandson of the infamous scientist, Victor Frankenstein. Frederick will do anything to prove that he is not his grandfather’s grandson, but when push comes to shove, the blood and the infamous history of Frankenstein’s takes over.
Teri Garr plays Inga, Frederick’s assistant.
Inga may appear to be just a dumb blonde speaking in a faux Eastern European accent and wearing a low-cut dress, but her character is vital to Frederick’s development from the beginning of the film to the end of the film. Along with Igor (Marty Feldman), they travel with Frederick from his denial of who he is to his acceptance of his DNA and his fate. Inga also gets some of the best lines in the film, as per the scene above.
I recommend this film, if nothing else, for Teri Garr’s performance.
Earlier today, I saw Tootsie (1982). Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is an actor whose difficult reputation precedes him. Unable to get a job, he becomes Dorothy Michaels and gets a job on a soap opera. Garr plays Sandy, one of Michael’s actor friends whose neurosis is exacerbated by her inability to find work and Michael’s inconsistency during this period.
I’m not an actor, but I can imagine that many actors, especially those whose work history is sketchy, can relate to Sandy’s neurosis. She is the flip side to Jessica Lange’s Julie, Michael/Dorothy’s co-star and love interest. Ms. Garr could have gone completely out there, playing a stereotype. But there is a reality to her character. Sandy’s neurosis (which considering her choice of career is understandable) is firmly rooted in her lack of lack of self-esteem, which when done properly, can be incredibly funny. The character of Sandy is funny, as is the actress who plays her, Teri Garr.
It ran only three performances, but if this production comes to a theater near you, I highly reccomend it.
There have been numerous adaptations of Beauty and The Beast over the years, most famously, the Disney movie from the early 90’s.
But none as simple and powerful at this adaptation.
Stripped down to a 90 minute three act play with only three characters on a nearly empty stage, the special effects assist the story and the actors without overwhelming them.
The thing that makes this adaptation so memorable is that a single line in the play is all you need to know about the lead characters “A scar for a scar”.
Stripped of the 16th century trappings of the original story and the Disneyfied singing and dancing household objects, Beauty and Beast is a very simple, beautiful and timeless tale. It is the tale of two people, who have been knocked down by life, who feel like outsiders, who each bear scars from their pasts. Through their interactions with each other, they begin to heal, accept themselves and find the internal peace they have been searching for.
I wish it had a longer run, but I am glad I had a chance to see it this weekend. I would most certainly see it again if it came to my area.