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John Lithgow is impressive in the title role of Shakespeare’s King Lear. He works his way through the varied moods, sometimes tumultuous and other times tender. He displays uncontrollable anger towards his “thankless” daughters yet is gentle to the Fool (Steven Boyer) who through sarcasm and wit holds up a mirror to the King’s behavior. Lithgow, 68, got into shape for the physicality of the role. Although playing an 80-year-old, he comes on stage carrying the body of his daughter.
As his oldest daughter, Bening stiffly delivers her lines as if standing in front of her high school English class. Hecht, who usually gives a memorable performance, falls into a NY accent when she isn’t screaming for vengeance. Sanders is strong and capable and Clarke Peters makes a stately Glouchester.
But the evening, as well as the title role, goes to Lithgow. An actor whose delivered many comic and villainous performances, he touches our hearts even as we wish he’d change his actions. Under the skillful direction of Dan Sullivan, King Lear thrills the audience, and luckily for me, the only raging storm was on stage.