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Shakespeare’s Epic Tragedy King Lear Gets a Tour-de-Force Performance in Raleigh

Honest Pint Theatre Company (Raleigh) and Sweet Tea Shakespeare (Fayetteville) have combined forces and talents to produce King Lear, tragic dysfunctional-family story of father and daughters, mendacity, betrayal, greed, along with loyalty and love. Leggett Theater at William Peace University hosts this long dramatic presentation of The Bard’s saga of an old man’s insanity.

The show runs three-and-a-half hours, which includes being serenaded before, during, and after the play with folksy music and dance. Also keeping us entranced was the excellent fight choreography of Jennifer Pommerenke, which kept us wondering if someone might not actually get hurt. A simple but versatile set, designed by Meredith Riggin and fabricated by Barry Jaked, employs basic wooden tables and benches that the actors reset for various scenes.

Director/scenic designer Jeremy Ray Fiebig, who is also the artistic director of Sweet Tea Shakespeare, keeps the action flowing, moves his cast around deftly, and assures most of the early 17th Century language is understandable. Clever details, such as creating the rain storm on stage and use of lighting and sound expand the enjoyment of this tour-de-force performance.

The title role, King Lear is created by Simon Kaplan, who carries us through the transition from a kind of crotchety old grump to full-blown tragic madman smoothly, not missing a note along the way. Kaplan is a powerful actor, and every word was understood both in enunciation and emotion.

Honest Pint co-artistic director David Henderson also finds every chord and nuance in his portrayal of Edmond, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester, and is Lear’s primary antagonist. His wooing of the two ambitious sisters is as deceitful as his pretended fealty to his half-brother and father. As with Kaplan, every word and subtlety was clear and understandable.

Goneril, one of the two scheming sisters, is played by Tohry Petty. She brings an evil demeanor to this devious role, and makes it obvious she cannot be trusted.

Evan Bridestone plays the Earl of Gloucester, a complicated role, who is both naive and cruel, yet makes us very sympathetic for him when he loses his eyes for his treachery.

Cordelia, who refuses to play the game of professing her love for Lear more gushingly than her sisters, and thus offends the old egotist, is played by Jennifer Pommerenke. She impresses us with Cordelia’s genuine sincerity in her love for her father.

Aaron Alderman does fine work as Edgar, the Earl of Gloucester’s legitimate son. He shows his devotion to his father, but bearing his father’s naiveté, misses Edmund’s plot against them. Alderman’s tenderness to Gloucester is done with goodwill when Gloucester is at the height of his despair.

The cast King Lear consists of 16 excellent performers, a few of whom we have mentioned here; but all do good work and make for a thoroughly enjoyable theatrical experience. This intermingling of companies produces a synergy that heightens the value of their efforts. We applaud this effort and strongly recommend that they collaborate more often.

The cast includes (from left) Jeremy Ray Fiebig, Gus Allen, Jessica Osnoe, Kaley Morrison, David Henderson, Jacob French, Samantha Corey, Simon Kaplan, Medina Demeter, and Tohry Petty (photo by Thistle & Sun Photography)

The cast includes (from left) Jeremy Ray Fiebig, Gus Allen, Jessica Osnoe, Kaley Morrison, David Henderson, Jacob French, Samantha Corey, Simon Kaplan, Medina Demeter, and Tohry Petty (photo by Thistle & Sun Photography)

SECOND OPINION: Sept. 9th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Roy C. Dicks: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=8609; Sept. 6th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/king-lear/Event?oid=7891348; and Sept. 1st Raleigh, NC Raleigh Magazine preview by Jane Porter: http://raleighmag.com/2017/09/every-ounce-king/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Sept. 12th Triangle Review review by Dustin K. Britt, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/09/honest-pint-and-sweet-tea-shakespeare-get-to-the-heart-of-the-bards-king-lear/.)

Honest Pint Theatre Company and Sweet Tea Shakespeare present KING LEAR at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 and 16, 2 p.m. Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and 23, and 2 p.m. Sept. 24 in Leggett Theater in Main Building, 15 E. Peace St. Raleigh, North Carolina 27604, on the campus of William Peace University; and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28-30 in J.W. Seabrook Auditorium, 1200 Murchison Rd., Fayetteville, North Carolina 28301, on the campus of Fayetteville State University.

TICKETS:

Raleigh: $20.

Fayetteville: $15 ($8 students and children 6-12 years old and $13 seniors and active-duty military personnel), except children under 5 are free.

BOX OFFICE:

Raleigh: https://honest-pint-theatre-company.ticketleap.com/king-lear/.

Fayetteville: http://www.sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets/.

SHOW: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/king-lear, Raleigh: https://www.facebook.com/events/1869337450052964/, and Fayetteville: http://www.sweetteashakespeare.com/event/king-lear/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/302399640237743/.

NEWS RELEASE: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/news.

PRESENTERS:

Honest Pint Theatre Company: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/honestpinttheatrecompany/, and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9jvpkyjZ1mzZGy1t3BV8mQ.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare: http://www.sweetteashakespeare.com/, https://www.facebook.com/sweetteashakes/, http://twitter.com/sweetteashakes and https://www.youtube.com/user/SweetTeaShakespeare.

VENUES:

Leggett Theater (Raleigh): https://honest-pint-theatre-company.ticketleap.com/king-lear/get-there/ (directions: http://www.peace.edu/about/locations-directions/).

J.W. Seabrook Auditorium (Fayetteville): http://www.uncfsu.edu/seabrook (directions: ).

NOTE: There will be a What You Will Preshow 45 minutes prior to curtain.

OTHER LINKS:
King Lear (c. 1605 or 1606 tragedy): https://www.britannica.com/topic/King-Lear (Encyclopædia Britannica) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Lear (Wikipedia).

The Script: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/ (1623 First Folio Edition, courtesy The University of Virginia in Charlottesville).
Study Guide: https://www.bard.org/study-guides/king-lear-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).

William Shakespeare (English playwright and poet, 1564-1616):
https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Shakespeare (Encyclopædia Britannica) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare (Wikipedia).

Jeremy Ray Fiebig (director and associate professor of Theatre at Fayetteville State University): http://www.jeremyfiebig.com/ (official website), http://www.uncfsu.edu/arts/faculty-and-staff/jeremy-fiebig (FSU bio), and http://facebook.com/jeremyfiebig (Facebook page).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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