This really isn’t the best time for a teeny-tiny staging of “King Lear” produced by Shakespeare’s Globe to play New York as part of its international tour.
As any really active theatergoer can tell you, this has been the “Year of Lear,” with multiple Off-Broadway productions of the tragedy popping up in recent months.
“King Lear” may be one of Shakespeare’s greatest, but seriously, how many times can you watch the aging, senile king go nuts in the storm without losing your owns sanity?
This also suffers from the inevitable comparisons to the Globe’s extraordinary “Twelfth Night and “Richard III,” which were done on Broadway last year with an all-male cast in Elizabethan garb.
“King Lear,” though also produced by the Globe, is a far leaner, less elaborate enterprise, with just a handful of male and female actors – essentially an old-fashioned troupe of strolling players – on a very plain, small wooden set that resembles a children’s clubhouse.
With most of the actors playing multiple roles – sometimes switching characters from one line to the next by putting on a new hat – it’s hard to take this “Lear” seriously.
Joseph Marcell, best known for playing Geoffrey on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” does not make much of an impact in the title role.
This might be fun to informally watch in a town square, but it is uncomfortably dwarfed by its surroundings at the concert hall-style Skirball Center.
Even so, it is refreshing to see “King Lear” done in such a jolly, music-infused style. There’s even a celebratory jig at the end. Dance on, King Lear! You’re the Lord of the Dance!
If you go: “King Lear” plays at the Skirball Center at NYU through Oct. 12. 566 LaGuardia Pl., nyuskirball.org.