King Lear rises from The First Folio on the CRT stage

KING LEAR by William Shakespeare starring Graeme Malcolm as Lear will run from Friday, Oct. 7, through Sunday, Oct. 16 in the Harriet Jorgensen Theatre. (Gerry Goodstein/Connecticut Repertory Theatre)

The Connecticut Repertory Theatre previewed “King Lear,” its first show of the 2016-2017 season Thursday evening at the Harriet Jorgensen Theatre. It was a prime example of what a collaboration of artists can produce in order to tell the story of one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies.

“King Lear” is the story of a king living in a world falling out to the point of no return, through disguise, self-knowledge and sight all playing and conflicting with one another. Lear is portrayed by Graeme Malcolm, who hails from the actor’s equity association, the union for professional stage actors and stage managers. His monolithic presence and authority is challenged by his daughters Goneril and Regan, played respectively by Arlene Bozich and Natalia Cuevas, both fifth semester graduate acting students. They plot to usurp him and in their deception he casts out the one daughter who truly loved him, Cordelia, played by Kristen Wolfe, a third semester undergraduate acting student.

“We wanted the set to be monolithic. That was the word our team settled on early on in our design meetings. It had to represent King Lear, who is this monolithic king in the play who has this immense authority, and the set needed to reflect that,” Pedro Guevara, set designer and fourth semester scenic design graduate, said.

The production quality of this show was exceptional. Massive scenic elements dominate the stage, an expression of Guevara’s monolithic vision. The characters look stunning on the stage, the quality of the costume design reminiscent of what one might see on “Game of Thrones.” The imagery and narrative content was connective in the sword fights, eye gouging and betrayal as the regal powers of the world vie for power over one another. One might say “Game of Thrones” is our own modern day “King Lear.”

“The director specified so much so there was definitely things he wanted to see. With that I also wanted to find a way to show the heaviness that the play called for. I wanted to keep the characters grounded and express the trappings of power,” Raven Ong, costume designer and sixth semester graduate costume design student, said.

With Shakespeare’s first folio now gone from campus, “King Lear” stands to show exactly what is significant about the plays contained within the book from 1623. The First Folio was on the Storrs campus back in September, as written here, and brought dozens of people together. With “King Lear,” set to run from Oct. 6 to 17 at the Jorgensen, audiences may yet see what made the first folio as reverent in its reception on the Storrs campus and allow those who go to see a continued celebration of The Bard.

Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at He tweets @wickedlouddude