King Lear

September 9

October 9, 2014

in CST's Courtyard Theater

by William Shakespeare
directed by Barbara Gaines

Critical Acclaim

Chicago Tribune gives CST's King Lear 3 and 1/2 stars This Lear is a Yando tour de force. He is credible in his raging diabolism and deeply sincere in regret. Given that he clearly was charged with showing us both of those opposite colors while mired in a sea of confusion, you can only admire this essential performance, the highlight of a man's career, all the more. So many of the relationships in this show plumb formidable depths—most particularly the one between Lear and his Fool (Ross Lehman), which achieves a level of mutual support and codependency that I've never quite seen before in all the many versions of this show I've experienced. When Steve Haggard's Edgar (another superb piece of acting) points out he finally got to know his father, Gloucester, just by spending time with his father, Gloucester, it is one of the most moving moments I've seen on this stage.”

Highly recommended! A thunderous storm rages unforgivingly in Barbara Gaines’ lean, sweeping, subtly musical and altogether riveting production. Watch Larry Yando (an actor of such quicksilver moods, breathtaking timing, total physical expressiveness and bristling intelligence that he should, by any reckoning, be an internationally renowned star) undergo dramatic shifts in fate and temperament, and you see the radical transformation occur in starkest relief. Gaines’ attention to detail here is impressive. And her collaborators are in perfect synchrony. This is a “King Lear” that never gets derailed by style. Listen to Yando’s wails at the end of the production and you will feel a man who has plunged fully into the maelstrom.”

“Mr. Yando and Ms. Gaines have given us a colossal ”Lear“ whose sheer visceral impact is unrivaled. Watching it is like staring down a typhoon. Mr. Yando is well known to Chicago playgoers for his fearlessly forthright acting. Even for him, though, this is a career-clinching performance, noteworthy not just for its unflagging intensity (he is fully as potent in the first half of the play as he is after intermission) but also for its textured complexity. This is in no way a one-man ”Lear.“ Kevin Gudahl and Michael Aaron Linder, for instance, are both magnetic as Kent and Gloucester, while Nehassaiu deGannes brings off the too-rare feat of making a fierce and positive impression as Cordelia instead of fading blandly into the scenery. Nevertheless, it is Mr. Yando who will fill you with awe. If he were a TV star, this ”Lear“ would go straight from Chicago to Broadway and run for a year. It should anyway.”

Highly Recommended! The waiting is over…the much anticipated production of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “King Lear” directed to perfection by Barbara Gaines has taken to the stage. While Larry Yando is stupendous in any role he takes on, doing Shakespeare is his specialty. Yando holds the stage as no other actor and his interpretation of “Lear” is one that is a definite. Even if you are not a Shakespeare devotee, mark your calendar to see this.”

Left me at the edge of my seat.  Larry Yando as King Lear is simply amazing; a powerhouse actor, he perfectly follows his character’s descent into madness.  And toward the end of the play he is absolutely terrifying in his stark portrayal of loss. But the constant focus on King Lear's disintegration is a fresh take on a classic treasure.  To see Larry Yando able to recover his sensibilities in fleeting moments makes the totality of his loss all the more tragic.”

“King Lear is as poignant a work of theater as anyone is likely to see; and Chicago Shakespeare’s production, masterfully directed by Barbara Gaines (the best Shakespearean director in the country) is as compelling as one is likely to experience. At the end of the performance, as the last actor left the stage, there was a hush in the theater as everyone held their breath processing the power of Shakespeare’s tale, his words, and the mesmerizing portrayal by Yando. And when that moment passed, the audience stood up and broke into a thunderous applause, giving Yando the standing ovation he so richly deserves.”

Actor Yando reigns supreme! An epic production of King Lear, directed by CST founder and Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and featuring Chicago theater legend Larry Yando in the title role, is stage storytelling at its finest. Painted with passionate performances, along with the haunting symbolic song lyrics and tones of the late Frank Sinatra, “King Lear” is both a simple and complicated tale of family and the thirst for power and greed.”

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