PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 11-17: Beautiful and Machinal Open on Broadway and Titanic Will Sail Back to the Stage

By Robert Simonson
17 Jan 2014


Frank Langella
Photo by Richard Termine

Also opening this week was the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Shakespeare's King Lear, starring Frank Langella, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Critics came expecting an impressive Langella (he nearly always is) and they were not disappointed. "Given Frank Langella's rock-solid stage background," wrote Variety, "it should come as no surprise that the old lion makes a formidable monarch in King Lear. Under Angus Jackson’s firm helming, the… production of the Shakespeare tragedy is all business — no bells, no whistles, no bluster.  Super-clean staging and tight ensemble work provide strong support for Langella, who turns in a thoughtful, moving, and well-rounded perf that is only the teensiest bit hammy."

New York magazine, too, referred to pork: "It takes a ham to play a ham, and Langella, more than any recent Lear I’ve seen, including Ian McKellen, Kevin Kline, and Christopher Plummer, knows just how to serve it up. Whenever he’s onstage, this production…snaps into focus." When off, though, the reviewer added, the staging got "shaggy."

The Times concurred that Jackson's mounting was a "straightforward storybook version," but confessed, "while I was often intrigued and stimulated by Mr. Langella’s Lear, I was only occasionally moved."