Going mad with Theatre Ventoux’s ‘King Lear’

Stripped-down production includes strong community-theater performances in an intimate setting

THEATER REVIEW

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve hung out with my old pal “King Lear,” and it’s nice to know he’s as mentally unstable and making the same bad decisions as ever. Theatre Ventoux offers a scrappy production of Shakespeare’s famed tale of hubris and filial ingratitude at the Fresno Soap Co., a tiny venue in which you sit so close you can see the actors’ pores.

regan lear
Kayla M. Weber is a standout in “King Lear.” Photo / Theatre Ventoux

Director Broderic Beard, working with a group of 10 diligent actors, offers a stripped-down version of the tragedy, with a bare stage and muted costumes giving the production a barren and parched feel, not unlike what I imagine the state of Lear’s muddled mind.

Greg Taber tackles the title role with at times a wonderfully stated subtlety. (At one point his character closes his eyes for a lengthy moment, and you wonder if he’s drifted off to sleep standing up.) I’ve always thought that one of the most terrifying things in the world would be to come to the slow realization that your brain isn’t working as it should, and it’s this high-anxiety tightrope act that Taber is particularly good at portraying. “I will not be mad,” Lear proclaims, even as we — and he — know the direction things are going.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Feb. 9)

Picks include Fresno State and Fresno City College choirs, a scrappy version of “King Lear” and a chance to see the Oscar-nominated short films at Fresno Filmworks

Some promising options for a busy weekend:

‘Walk in Peace’

This sounds like a beautiful event: The choirs of Fresno State and Fresno City College collaborate on the concert “Walk in Peace,” which celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King and Black History Month. Fresno State’s Cari Earnhart and Fresno City’s Julie Dana conduct. Guest artists include Mike Dana, Richard Giddens and members of the Fresno State Jazz Ensemble.

walk in peace

If you’re a fan of choral music, this is a chance to hear two strong collegiate music programs for the price of one!

Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, Fresno State Concert Hall. Tickets are $5.


‘King Lear’

Just three performances of the Shakespeare classic remain in Theatre Ventoux’s run. This taut adaptation, directed by Broderic Beard and starring Greg Taber in the title role, runs just 105 minutes including intermission.

Continue reading “Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Feb. 9)”