King Lear

Venue: Studio 58, Langara College

Dates: January 31 - February 14, 2002

Reviewer: Jane Penistan

This is a remarkable production of King Lear. Under Jane Heyman's direction the play is presented on an almost bare black stage. The mechanical device of the central revolve is used to good effect to speed scene changes, without becoming distracting.

The scene changes are also enhanced by subtle lighting, The predominantly dark costumes, sometimes brightened by shimmering cloaks, and with splashes of strong colour in the women's dresses, do not dictate any specific time or place The onus is on the actors to present Shakespeare's tragedy.

It is always difficult for both actors and audience when young actors appear as middle-aged and older characters. It often happens in student productions that parental roles are played by actors who are the same age as those playing their children.

Jane Heyman has wisely cast Anthony Holland, the school's first artistic director, as King Lear. A superb actor with beautiful diction, articulation and voice control, a man of dignity and sensitivity with a complete understanding of the text and an acute sense of timing, this octogenarian is all that Lear should be. Not only is he regal, he is also a very human individual. As the leading man, Anthony Holland does indeed lead the company.

A graduate of the school, Allan Morgan returns to Studio 58 to play The Duke of Gloucester. Here is an excellent performance by an experienced actor. The faithful Duke of Kent is played with surprising maturity, warmth and credibility by Joe Ritchie. He is the most successful of the students, though Jeff McMahan, as Edgar, Cloucester's legitimate son, manages his mad scenes without overacting and is convincing as a loving son with Gloucester.

Tamara Lashley's Regan has poise and command, while Layla Alizada manages the difficult role of Cordelia with some skill.

The acting students are privileged to work with Anthony Holland in this production, It is a wonderful experience which will stand them in good stead. The audience too shares this privilege in seeing this exceptional presentation.

If Studio 58 presented no other work this season this King Lear would more than justify the school's reputation as one of Canada's leading theatre training schools.

2002, Jane Penistan

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