Review: King Lear, starring Glenda Jackson

March 29, 2019

In a season full of plays, many with incredible performances from incredible actors, it's easy to see why people are flocking to the Cort Theatre to see Glenda Jackson take on the title role in Shakespeare's King Lear.


It's not Jackson's first time playing Lear, though this time it's a new production. She is a force to be reckoned with onstage, commanding every scene she is in. She is joined by Ruth Wilson as Cordelia and The Fool, in a fantastic performance. Another standout of the cast is Aisling O'Sullivan, making her Broadway debut as Regan. And another stunning aspect of the show is the lighting design, which manages to create the feel of many different places all within the gold box that makes up the set. 


The set itself doesn't give the audience any sense of where the show is set. With three gold walls, a purple carpet, and furniture that is moved according the scene, it doesn't feel grounded in any reality. The costumes also vary between an attempt at period dresses, suits, military-esque uniforms, and more, as they also contribute to the lack of setting. 


Also onstage amid the large cast is a group of musicians playing music by Philip Glass. This score is fine and feels properly utilized during scene changes, but it is when they play while there is dialogue that it feels distracting. 


As a whole the show is fine. It is worth seeing for Glenda Jackson, as well as other standout performances. While there are moments when it moves too quickly and moments when it moves not fast enough, you still don't want to pass up the chance to see Jackson in this powerhouse of a role.


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