New in 2019 Tony winner Glenda Jackson plays the title role in William Shakepeare's classic drama where a dying monarch disposes of his kingdom by giving bequests to two of his three daughters, bringing tragic consequences for all.
From the producers: Once every decade or so, a great actor comes to Broadway and gives a performance that reminds us why we go to the theater. Last year, that actor was Glenda Jackson in "Three Tall Women." This season, “the best actress alive” (The Guardian) is back on Broadway, and she’s climbing the tallest mountain any actor can climb. Glenda Jackson is "King Lear."
Derived from the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological pre-Roman Celtic king, "King Lear" has been widely adapted for the stage and motion pictures, with the title role coveted by many of the world's most accomplished actors. The play has been performed by esteemed actors since the 17th century, when men played all the roles. From the 20th century, a number of women have played male roles in the play; most commonly the Fool, who has been played (among others) by Judy Davis, Emma Thompson and Robyn Nevin. Lear himself has been played by Marianne Hoppe in 1990, by Janet Wright in 1995, by Kathryn Hunter in 1996–97, and by Glenda Jackson in 2016. Jackson played the title role at London's Old Vic, for which she received an Olivier nomination, the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress, and a Critics Circle Award for Best Shakespearean Performance.
Oscar winner Glenda Jackson put her acting career on hold, spending 23 years as a member of London's Parliament, She returned to the stage in 2016 for the Old Vic's "Lear," followed by her Tony-winning turn on Broadway in last season's "Three Tall Women." She leads a cast that includes Tony winner Jayne Houdyshell ("The Humans"), Elizabeth Marvel ("Other Desert Cities"), Aisling O’Sullivan ("Raw"), Pedro Pascal ("Game of Thrones"), John Douglas Thompson ("Jitney"), and Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson ("The Affair"). "King Lear" will feature an original score by the legendary composer Philip Glass. Tony winner Sam Gold ("A Doll’s House Part 2," "Fun Home") directs.
[Director] Gold makes a lot of audacious choices, many of which you might disagree with, but they are seldom uninteresting. He stages the drama with vigorous energy and bold idiosyncrasies that locate it firmly within our current unhinged world. While the ensemble doesn't feel unified, there are some standout performances. Still, for all its weaknesses, the staging is never dull. And watching Jackson is a reward in itself. She's by no means a Lear for the ages, and perhaps couldn't be in such a scattershot production. But [she] seems to contain supernatural reserves of stamina.
This "Lear" is a knock-out. Jackson's Lear is no feeble has-been but rather a too-soon-sidelined warrior. Perhaps he's slipping, this king, and knows what's coming, but that sandpaper roar of a voice and cut-to-the-quick glare give new meaning to the tragedy of forced retirement. With an era-hopping mix of contemporary dress styles, and accompanied by an on-stage string quartet playing an exciting original score by Philip Glass...this "Lear" is a production of many memorable parts and moments....[an] extraordinary production.