Review: Lear (adapted) by Vortex Repertory Theatre
by Michael Meigs
The Vortex version of Lear features several accomplished Austin actors, including most notably Jennifer Underwood in the title role, but director Rudy Ramirez trivializes Shakespeare's great epic of royal folly and delusion. Lear's rage against the storm is converted into a confused confrontation with paparazzi, and key narration is projected as sound-bites from MSNBC-style talking heads, proving that style can defeat substance. Cross-gender casting for the roles of Kent and Edda (Edgar) is puzzling; less so for Shannon Grounds as the Fool. Underwood doesn't really get going until the mad scene in Act IV, scene 6. Other standouts in the cast include Micah Goodding as the wily and wicked bastard Edmund, Jen Coy as Regan and Tom Truss as Cornwall. The last third or so of the production -- from the blinding of Gloucester onward -- has impact and conviction.
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