Posted May 2, 2013
By RACHEL JANOSEC
“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”
This is the opening line and the plot of the classic William Shakespeare play “King Lear,” which was put on at the University of Miami Jerry Herman Ring Theatre. The show was performed mostly by students of the university.
Dennis Krausnick, whom is an older and established actor that appeared courtesy of the Actor’s Equity Association, played King Lear. Bringing in an older actor who wasn’t a student was a nice touch due to the fact that King Lear plays the father of three daughters, who are the leads in the play, and a student playing the lead would have been confusing.
Having Krausnick brought in showed the audience the power and years the King has over every other character in the play and really helped him stand out over the others.
Directed by Lee Soroko, “King Lear” is a royal reception that all must see, from its madness and conflict to its very vibrant costumes and dynamic set designs. The talented actors and actresses of course add to the well-choreographed scenes filled with dancing and signing, but the Foole was definitely the standout performer.
The play started out rather slowly until the Foole entered the scene. Her colorful and playful costume and attitude lightened up the stage and the audience appreciated her talent. Played by Konnie Pantazis, the Foole’s costume was the most thought-out and imaginative with her multiple layered colorful high-waisted puffy skirts, tight golden corset and high black and white striped tights. Her movements across the stage and the projection of her voice in every scene were very well delivered and delightful to watch.
The character of Edgar, played by Brandon Beaver, was another performance that stood out. Edgar was played well with a wide range of emotions and passion, but the characters Edgar pretends to be were also dynamic and seamless. His character captivated the audience and left them on the edge of their seats, literally.
The plot of the play in the beginning was a little difficult to catch on to due to the king’s voice and projection; he almost yelled all of his words. There was no amplification used, only during set changes when the music was being played. But betrayal and lies then begin to surface between the king’s family and this upsets him throughout the play. Deceit follows the king in the play through various acts with his three daughters in scene and eventually drives him to madness. In my opinion he seemed mad all along. This madness of the king ends in tragedy for most of the cast due to lies that unravel as time passes.
Tension in the play mounts towards the climax and the play picks up momentum and leaves the audience questioning and wanting more. This is partially because the audience begins to get used to the challenging Shakespearean language and also because the actors do a great job at translating the material and conveying the subject of the play. The actors and actresses really took the material and language in the play and made it into their own, a sort of modern day Shakespeare, which was found very impressive by all.
Everything on set was visually appealing. The costumes also had a modern twist to them, which is clearly displayed when the daughters later in the play wear full suits instead of fancy dresses. This seemed a little out of place but still managed to tie in with the whole modern theme for which they were aiming.
Most all of the costumes looked elegant and time-period appropriate, though a few did not. Considering that this is a university-run show, they probably didn’t have a lot of funds.
The set was also appealing to the eye, although there weren’t too many set changes or props, but the stage was rather small. The stage had six large rotating hanging panels across it, which helped a lot with the transitions from scene to scene. Moving one or all of the large six panels likely confused the audience and distracted visually from a set change or character change. The panels also played a large part in the conflict scenes, especially the intense battle in the second half of the play. That moment was very well planned and intense.
Another confusing aspect of the play was the loud dub step music that was played between each set/scene change. This music is a form of Electronic Dance Music and is very loud and is accompanied by ear-bursting bass. This specific music genre seemed a little out of place for such a classic play in history, but I guess can also be related back to the modern theme. The music did add to the drama of the play, but sometimes it would drown out a characters language towards the end of the scene.
In the end, for a university-level play and a Shakespearean play at that, the rendition was basically flawless and very entertaining. The flow of the play between the characters was outstanding and the action-packed fighting scenes make “King Lear” one to see.
- Held in the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre on the University Miami campus
- Show ran from Feb. 20 to March 2, 2013
- Directed by Lee Soroko
- Main actors- Dennis Krausnick (King Lear), Brandon Beaver (Edgar), Konnie Pantazis (Foole), Rachel Darby (Gonerill), Miki Hellerbach (Albany), Maggie Weston (Reagan)
- Scenic design by April Soroko
- Costume design by Michiko Skinner
- Tickets were $8 for students, except on Tuesday when it was free with a Cane Card.