‘King Lear’ receives royal reception

Discord and madness have come to UM’s Ring Theatre this February. The Department of Theater Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences are putting on a production of the classic Shakespeare play King Lear  through Saturday.

Directed by Lee Soroko, the show is a spectacle to behold, with colorful costumes, intricately choreographed scenes and a vibrant set with dynamic actors to match.

Deceit and familial betrayal follow the king as he succumbs to madness, culminating in a tragic end for many of the characters as lies are revealed and plots unraveled.

Though it starts slowly, the show soon gains momentum, pulling viewers to the edge of their seats as the tension mounts. This is no small feat, for Shakespeare is challenging to translate to a modern audience, yet the actors all have a remarkable command of the material and do an excellent job conveying the themes.

The set, though spare, is effective and visually appealing. The use of rotating panels helps with the transitions and adds confusion during the conflicts, particularly the fight scene in the second half of the play, which is, in itself, one of the most notable and intense scenes in the production.

The costumes have a modern flair but remain elegant enough to suit the content. Though some seem out of place, overall they add to the aesthetic quality of the show.

The standout costume is, without a doubt, that of the Foole. Played by Konnie Pantazis, the Foole’s costume is elaborate and showcases Pantazis’ expressive performance.

She moves across the stage with a dynamism highlighted by a swirl of colorful skirts and black-and-white striped tights. Besides her crazy costume, Pantazis draws the eye with her emphatic and wild deliverance and full-body performance.

Another memorable performance is that of Brandon Beaver who plays the character Edgar. Beaver displays an impressive range of emotions and accents as he has to portray not only Edgar, but also the various people Edgar pretends to be. He throws himself into each scene with vigor and his portrayal of assumed madness is chilling and captivating.

Of course, no one can overlook the title character played by Dennis Krausnick, the co-founder of Shakespeare & Company in Lennox, MA. Krausnick is unforgettable as Lear, portraying the king’s trip to insanity and back with unparalleled skill. His performance is moving, growing more provocative as the play progresses. He depicts the character of a madman with an almost childlike abandon that is rare in even the best actors.

The only aspect of the show that stands out as being disorienting is the use of dubstep music to signify the change of scene. For the most part, the employment of small bursts of music used in the production adds to the drama, giving certain scenes an almost movie-like quality. However, such modern music is jarring in contrast with the antique language, and there were one or two times where it seemed to drown out the end of a character’s speech.

Overall, this was a fantastic rendition of Shakespeare. With its fast-paced action and the easy repartee between the actors, King Lear is truly worth seeing.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office for $8 for students.


Where: Jerry Herman Ring Theatre

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday.

Cost: $8 for students, except on Tuesday when it is free for students with a Cane Card.

For more information: Visit miami.edu/ring