Tonight is the first preview of The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of King Lear. As I’ve mentioned previously, Shakespeare in the Park is my number 1 NYC summer activity. It’s free, it’s fantastically produced, it’s outside- it’s some of the best theatre I have ever seen. John Lithgow is staring as Lear and I can not wait to see what he does with it! I’m so excited! This is the week to go, while the show is in previews. Before reviews come out, it’s relatively easy to get FREE tickets without needing to wait at early hours of the morning. So go this week if at all possible! Check out my Tips from a Former Shakespeare in the Park Usher for more info!
I’ve been waiting for this production with great anticipation. In the meantime I had the pleasure of viewing some Shakespeare in a different park, in a different borough. Random Access Theatre‘s presented a production of Taming of the Shrew in Brooklyn Bridge Park!
What a backdrop! Downtown Manhattan and the setting sun competed with the actors for attention. Far to the south the Statue of Liberty was in plain view. I sat sipping my insanely expensive but insanely delicious basil-strawberry-cucumber lemonade, happily waiting for the show to begin. With surroundings like this, the play could be atrocious and it would still be an evening well spent.
But the play wasn’t atrocious. Not by any means. It was an absolutely delightful production. Each and every actor delivered a well versed, captivating performance. I heard every word, quite a feat in the out-door environment, especially with some loud party cruises sailing by! Props and costumes were minimal, just enough to tell the story. The focus here was the language and the characters.
If you are familiar with the play, you know it doesn’t translate particularly well to modern interpretations. The plot revolves around wifely obedience and the place of women in society. This production was set in the 1950’s and especially emphasized the anti-feminist aspect of the play. There was absolutely no romance. The ending left me feeling particularly uncomfortable, not uplifted as comedies traditionally do. This was clearly the director’s intent.
A wonderful evening, I can’t wait to see what Random Access Theatre presents next year for their fourth season in the park!
In the mean time, there’s a ton of free Shakespeare being performed throughout the city! Check out Harlem Summer Shakepeare’s free production of Romeo and Juliet up in my neighborhood on Riverbank Park running now through August 17th. Underling Productions is presenting a back to back Robin Hood and Love’s Labour’s Lost in Central Park the next two weekends (July 26-27 and Aug 2-3). There’s also one more week to catch Shakespeare in the Parking Lot‘s free production of Twelfth Night on the Lower East Side!
If you like free outdoor Shakespeare as much as I do, NYC is the place to be!