King Lear -- considered by many to be Shakespeares most towering work for the stage -- will visit Macons Douglass Theatre on Sunday, thanks to the miracle of HD broadcast technology.
This series of live broadcasts from Great Britains National Theatre has been drawing Shakespeare fans to the Douglass from around the state, and we can expect much the same turn-out Sunday -- even though some area colleges are in the midst of exams.
This current production of Shakespeares most heart-rending tragedy, which just opened Friday on the banks of the Thames, places the action in a modern-day totalitarian state. Directed by Sam Mendes and starring Simon Russell Beale in the title role, the NT production presents Lear as an aging tyrant, complete with bodyguards.
Regardless of the era in which the events are set, the plot is powerful -- based on the legend of a pre-Roman Celtic king -- yet painful to witness: The aging king decides that the time has come to retire and divide his kingdom among his daughters, with the largest share going to the one who loves him the most. While Goneril and Regan are fulsome in their declarations, the young Ophelia quietly says that she has no words equal to the task.
Enraged, the vain king strips her of her inheritance and vows that he will divide his remaining days between the two older daughters, who he is certain will be pleased to support him. Tragic consequences ensue, and Lear ultimately descends into madness.
Is Lear a play about filial ingratitude, or is it about an egotistical old man receiving his just desserts? Or the corrupting influences of power? By the bloody end, Lear is left with little more than his Fool, who throughout wryly comments on the action.
George Bernard Shaw declared that No man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear, and there are few who will dispute him.
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Douglass Theatre
Cost: $20 per ticket
Information: 478-742-2000, www.douglasstheatre.org