Stratford Festival HD – King Lear

Clear Lear

STRATFORD FESTIVAL HD – KING LEAR (Joan Tosoni). 180 minutes. Screens Thursday (February 19) and repeats March 7 and 22. For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN

This week, the Stratford Festival launches its planned HD broadcast of all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays with their acclaimed production of King Lear. If you missed Colm Feore‘s magnificent performance last season, you’ve got another chance.

This filmed version captures all the power of Antoni Cimolino‘s clear, muscular staging, crowned by Feore’s layered Lear: initially vain and pompous, he becomes angry and fearful as he’s spurned by two of his daughters (Maev Beaty and Liisa Repo-Martell, both excellent and multi-dimensional), and as he rages in the storm he becomes a figure of pity. His mournful cry in the final act will bring tears to your eyes – it did to mine both in the stage version and here.

Director Joan Tosoni‘s swiftly moving camera takes some getting used to – part of the joy of theatre is looking wherever you want – but it captures some nice moments, such as Lear’s recognition when he says “Nothing can be made of nothing” to his Fool (a heartbreaking Stephen Ouimette), a line that echoes his rejection of Cordelia (Sara Farb). 

And the blinding of Gloucester (Scott Wentworth) is suitably horrific. Later, the makeup to show his crusted-over eye sockets is believable in high-def. And speaking of clarity, you can see the back and arm hair on Evan Buliung when he’s cavorting around as Poor Tom, an experience you don’t get at the theatre.

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