Conventional, traditional productions of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, included in the 1623 First Folio, feature a substantial cast that includes fourteen speaking characters of some primary impact, plus an assortment of officers, soldiers, attendants and messengers. In Prism Movement Theater and Theatre Three’s co-production, called Lear, running through November 19th in the intimate Theatre Too downstairs space, the cast gets condensed to five characters, and only one, Lear, speaks any actual lines from the play.
Prism Movement Theater dedicates itself to Movement Theatre, with stories “told through motion, expression and theatrical illusion” and Wordless Theatre, presenting “stories that don’t rely on a traditional spoken language to be fit for a global audience.” Fans of Prism Movement Theater’s works look forward to the intensely dramatic refocus that the company’s practice provides, as in their captivating touring show Bruises from early 2017.
Lear distills the complex and convoluted relationships in the major scripted version to the relationship between a female Lear, accompanied by her Fool, and her three daughters. Humor, driven mostly by The Fool but also by the caricatured depiction of the two “sinister” daughters Regan and Goneril and “honest” daughter Cordelia, balances out the deeply tragic drama that dominates most productions to excellent effect here. The character Lear still follows the original play’s recognizable arc of deception, disillusionment and disintegration as the performance unfolds. As a satisfying, experimental, essentialist take on what can be a confusing and overwhelming tragedy, movement gives it a fresh interpretation. When Lear finally speaks at play’s end, it comes as a surprise; her verbal communication feels more potent, hangs in midair with unanticipated impact than if it came after a flood of words. Shakespeare purists may scoff at the “over-simplification” without layered, talky plot, but this is no Cliff’s Notes version. It stands viably, visibly on its own in stageworthy dignity and emotional power.
Bringing the Queen to life and driving the performance, regional professional Marianne Galloway uses every iota of her masterful, expressive skills in portraying the petulant, deranged, pitiful Lear, offering a fluid, memorable version. Her daughters, as played by Bethany Burnside, Iv Amenti and Allison Morris, mingle with the audience pre-show and provide a clownish, human aspect through posture, grunts and constant motion. Kwame David Lilly, The Fool, adds comic relief and creates the most sympathetic character in the work, easy to follow and relate to.
Playwright/ Choreographer Katy Tye and Director/ Fight Choreographer Jeffrey Colangelo have refined teamwork to crystalline fluency. The precise balance in Lear between movement and underlying thought and emotion is seamless, as if it simply arises from the actors’ bodies spontaneously. The quote “ART IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE SOUL” graces Prism Movement Theater’s company website (attributed to Ace Anderson of The Striped Heart). Mission accomplished with Lear.
Tickets to this co-production of Lear range from $35-40 and are on sale online at Theatre3Dallas.com, by phone at 214.871.3300, option #1, or in person at the Theatre Three Box Office.
Theatre Three Dallas / 2800 Routh Street, Ste #168, Dallas
Photos by Jeffrey Schmidt