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Brothers Grant and Randy Neale Provide Bellylaughs and Onstage Pyrotechnics in “The Fool’s Lear”

Brothers Grant Neale (left) and Randy Neale star in as the Fool and King Lear in "The Fool's Lear"

Brothers Grant Neale (left) and Randy Neale star as the Fool and King Lear in "The Fool's Lear"

The Fourth of July fireworks have come early to Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School, near the Historic Oakwood Section of downtown Raleigh, NC. The Nomad Theatrical Company’s pixilated — and at times achingly poignant — performance of The Fool’s Lear, a delightful dramedy that concludes its all-too-brief Triangle run at 7:30 p.m. tonight and 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, unleashes a dazzling display of onstage pyrotechnics as dramatist Randy Neale plays the prideful King Lear and director Grant Neale portrays his motley Fool and staunchest supporter who sticks with the temperamental monarch after Lear falls on hard times and all of his other retainers desert him.

Together, the Neale brothers transform English playwright and poet William Shakespeare’s timeless 17th century tragedy about an aging monarch who foolishly divides his kingdom in his declining days and gives the biggest shares to his fickle daughters Goneril and Regan, whose phony public declarations of their love flatter him the most, while disinheriting his favorite daughter, Cordelia, for refusing to play this silly game designed to pump up her father’s ego.

Randy Neale is always amusing as he impatiently struts and frets as the increasingly disoriented and bewildered King Lear is cast out of Regan and Goneril’s castles and forced to see refuge in the rugged heath, but it is Grant Neale who puts on a veritable comic acting clinic, punctuated with pratfalls and bleats from toy musical instruments, Indeed, Grant Neale’s impish antics as a cheeky court jester who repeatedly punctures his sovereign’s swelling pride with his a waspish tongue made him the favorite of an embarrassingly small Friday-night crowd.

The Fool ingeniously stages a visit to a shepherd's cottage, with two wooden forks (for father and son) and three wooden spoons (for mother and daughters) standing in for the sheep-herding family.

The Fool (Grant Neale) ingeniously stages a visit to a shepherd's cottage, with two wooden forks (for father and son) and three wooden spoons (for mother and daughters).

This brilliant retelling of the tragedy of King Lear and his three daughters deserves an SRO audience as it reduces King Lear’s dramatis personae to two characters, although the Fool employs a lovely white flower to represent the ever-faithful Cordelia and improvises other characters from props as Lear and his Fool make their long march toward Dover.

The Fool also ingeniously stages a visit to a shepherd’s cottage, with two wooden forks (for father and son) and three wooden spoons (for mother and daughters) standing in for the sheep-herding family. Moreover, it is imaginative touches such as these that make The Fool’s Lear an absolute delight and a must-see comic drama for Shakespeare purists and the Average Jane and Joe alike.

The Nomad Theatrical Company presents THE FOOL’S LEAR at 7:30 p.m. July 2 and 3 p.m. July 3 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School, 224 Polk St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27604.

TICKETS: $18.

BOX OFFICE: Tickets will only be sold at the door.

SHOW: http://www.burningcoal.org/.

PRESENTER: http://www.facebook.com/NomadTheatrical.

VENUE/DIRECTIONS: http://www.burningcoal.org/third/murphey.html.

OTHER LINKS:

Grant Neale: http://www.grantneale.com/ (official website).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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