Last week we got to attend our first Shakespeare in the Park of 2019. It was wonderful!
The play was performed at Lone Fir Cemetery by the Portland Actors Ensemble, and attended by about sixty adults and kids. People brought blankets, folding chairs, and picnics to enjoy.
The play, which is about vain King Lear and the bad choices he makes, isn’t a comedy or a romance. It is a tragedy through and through. Brothers and sisters turn on each other, and children against their parents. Good people die, as well as bad.
But the acting, music and setting were so perfect, we didn’t mind the sadness. A violin, pipe and some dissonant singing gave the piece a very courtly, other-worldly feel.
The acting was extraordinary. Isabella Buckner, who we saw last summer as Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet”, stole every scene she was in as The Fool. Her role was part comic relief, part Greek Chorus, and part BFF of the fading King.
King Lear, portrayed by Jim Butterfield, was old enough to be forgiven his foolishness, but still carried the remains of his former glory with him.
Lear’s evil daughters, Goneril and Regan were well played, Jill Westerby as Regan being completely believable in her insane greed. Cordelia, the daughter who loved her father best and who was treated the worst, was played by Sam Reiter with earnest, unsimpering love.
As the play goes along, Cordelia is banished and Lear thrown out into the storm, while his steadfast friends and enemies of his enemies work to keep him and themselves alive. Summer winds whipped through the cemetery at just the right moments, showering us with leaves and making proper sound effects.
By the time the play was over and more than a few bodies lay on stage, night had fallen and we applauded and packed up in the dark. It was still very warm and the walk home through the neighborhood was a good place to talk about the play and fill in plot points we had missed.
Another fabulous day in Portland!