Lear, by Beatrix

Beatrix had lobbied hard to attend King Lear at the Guthrie ever since she learned it was about a king and his 3 daughters. She was also anxious to see a real tragedy; she's seen Midsummer Night's Dream and a dance version of Romeo and Juliet, but as she says "I wanted to see a grown-up play." Every year, the Guthrie does a special Shakespeare performance to involve youth (as part of the legacy of the inimitable Sheila Livingston), so we got to attend one of those matinees on Sunday.

Truth be told, I was a little worried about the length and language of the play, and Patrick was concerned about Lear's madness and the eye-gouging scene. Both turned out to be ok, though Beatrix did think it would not be good for *little* kids.

The language in particular turned out to be fine. Both she and I thought that the closed-caption style screens would be distracting, but Beatrix did not even read them, preferring to let the language sort of wash over her (I admit to glancing sometimes). She says she understood everything, mainly because she knew the story in advance, and that the action on the stage worked perfectly with the words — which is, I suppose, as it should be. She got a little bored near the end of the first act, but let's face it, that's the slowest point of the show in general.

We ran into her friend Scarlett at intermission, who had been hoping for more Elizabethan costumes, but Beatrix liked the glamorous 30s style of the production, especially the evening dresses. As far as performances, of course her favorites were the women — thus a play about sisters was right up her alley. She especially loved Cordelia (of course), but also Goneril for her power, and loved Charity Jones in multiple roles but especially as a knight. She appreciated Lear, Kent, and the Duke of Gloucester, but was no big fan of Edmund, declaring him to sound too much like the donkey in Shrek (can't please them all I suppose).

All in all, I'm going to call it an unmitigated success, and Beatrix is eager to see "ALL of Shakespeare." Good thing we have the Guthrie!


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