Grab a blanket and a picnic and enjoy some family time with Shakespeare by the Sea and one thousand of your neighbors for free. Director Stephanie Coltrin offers up a fast-paced King Lear that will keep you on your toes with drama, laughter and tears.
Upon first seeing the stage, in the middle of a park, by scenic designer Aaron Jackson, it is quite impressive in size and detail with three levels of chestnut-stained wood. Hanging above is a family crest and one-dimensional sheet metal rocks secured to the trestles. Every day and night the actors must set up and tear down the stage.
David Graham (King Lear), an English teacher, extends his passion for literature by directing and performing in countless Shakespeare plays with SBTS since 2002. Graham and Katie Pelensky (Cordelia), daughter to Lear, create a loving and doting father/daughter relationship tugging on the heart strings. The audience is reactive to Suzanne Dean (Goneril) and understudy Katherine Curci-Prenovost (Regan) as they betray their husbands in a separate kiss with Cylan Brown (Edmund). Throughout, Andrew David James (Kent) shakes his head, trying to make sense of the drama, and is the voice of reason.
This isn’t an average way to view Shakespeare, with the crinkling of food wrappers, the occasional dog walker and maybe a heckler. One wonders how the actors stay on task, but it makes for interesting impromptu. Toward the end as King Lear goes mad Graham walks off the stage with an insane laugh; a menacing baby in the audience laughs maniacally. The entertainment continues during the intermission with an inspired boy about three years old in a combative stance whirling daggers around his body to mimic the sword fighting.
Valerie Wright-Blair, costume designer, uses traditional British design encompassing sandals and long dresses in gem colors and a red tunic for Lear with purple draped to the sides and a golden sash. Katherine Curci-Prenovost (Regan) wears a royal purple dress with flared sleeves and pewter accents.
Shakespeare by the Sea Summer 2011 celebrates its fourteenth season in Southern California in 21 open-air venues for a total of 41 performances throughout LA and Orange counties. Mistress of Ceremonies and hostess, Lisa Coffi, Founder and Producing Artistic Director, tirelessly fosters The Tragedy of King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing for this year’s festival through city grants and donations. This year the cities are feeling the pinch, giving less or nothing at all, but SBTS continues to return because of the importance of culture to its dedicated audience, creating lasting memories with family and friends. To find out more go to www.shakespearebythesea.org or talk to Lisa at the stage during intermission where you can find her conversing with inquisitive minds.