King Lear

Mom’s African Mask

Shakespeare in the Park has restarted this month, after last year’s hiatus and since this festival has been going on so many years now, they have already performed all of the “good” plays at least once. This leaves them with the need to add a new slant to each revisited production going forward. They chose King Lear for this year, but instead of setting it the way that it was written, in England, the scene has been moved to Africa and is performed by an all black cast. Think Wakanda, without any Vibranium, but with still plenty of the family politics. We are thinking of going, but because of Covid, you can’t just show up this year, you need a reservation and I have not quite figured out their reservation system yet. For those of you who are not familiar with this story, I offer the following 200 word synopsis of the play’s plot, which I found on the Internet:

Lear, the aging king of Britain, decides to step down from the throne and divide his kingdom evenly among his three daughters. First, however, he puts his daughters through a test, asking each to tell him how much she loves him. Goneril and Regan, Lear’s older daughters, give their father flattering answers. But Cordelia, Lear’s youngest and favorite daughter, remains silent, saying that she has no words to describe how much she loves her father. Lear flies into a rage and disowns Cordelia. The king of France, who has courted Cordelia, says that he still wants to marry her even without her land, and she accompanies him to France without her father’s blessing. Lear quickly learns that he made a bad decision. Goneril and Regan swiftly begin to undermine the little authority that Lear still holds. Unable to believe that his beloved daughters are betraying him, Lear slowly goes insane. He flees his daughters’ houses to wander on a heath during a great thunderstorm, accompanied by his Fool and by Kent, a loyal nobleman in disguise. — Kartik Pareek

In addition to the Forest Park production, I am also reminded of the King Lear story, because of what is occurring in Anne’s family. Harry has decided that he doesn’t want to continue living alone and has decided to sell his Ann Arbor home of some forty-five years and move into an assisted living center, where he can be around other people for a change.  He and Jane have chosen a place and selected a realtor. Now don’t get me wrong. Harry is no King Lear. He is probably one of the sanest people I know, but he does have three daughters. They had a Zoom call last night, where they discussed the work ahead of all of us soon. Eavesdropping, it all sounded quite amicable and business like. One would expect no less from Harry’s daughters. I would not deign to cast Harry as Lear, but I am just enough of a big spoon to cast his three daughters. Jane is obviously Cordelia, because she is the youngest and the favorite. I’m placing Anne as Regan, because of the whole RegenAxe thing. That leaves Goneril for Jay, sorry Jay. Study your lines girls, we’ll have a first reading in a few weeks. Now if I have stepped in it with this post, I am sorry. Please allow me to lighten my tread some, with the following bit of Lear inspired humor: