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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Every Inch a King

Flatwater's King Lear presents Shakespeare's most searing tragedy in its richness, complexity, humanity, humor, and sorrow.

It is a political drama: the temptations of absolute power are too much for too many characters to resist.

It is a family drama: children try valiantly to negotiate with a powerful father and to assert themselves; another father tries to discern which child has his best interests at heart.

It is a personal drama: Lear comes to accept his own frailty, after decades of wielding forceful authority.

Combining the political, the family, and the personal dimensions: Kent, Cordelia, and Edgar insist on remaining loyal even to authority figures who have unjustly turned against them.

But loyalty in itself is not enough. Cornwall's unnamed servant dies in the attempt to prevent his master from committing an atrocity, while Goneril's servant Oswald dies in the attempt to kill a helpless political enemy and to assist in the murder of his lady's husband.

Bob Hall has assembled and guided a remarkable cast --

Stephen Gaines as Lear is imperious, deeply flawed, and ultimately deeply vulnerable.

George Hansen as Gloucester understands the ancient meaning of "pious": faithful to his society's norms, codes, and religion.

Matt Lukasiewicz as Edmund knows how his character connects with such seductive villains as Richard III and Iago.

Rob Burt as Edgar is a devoted son, an inspired improviser, and (in all senses) noble.

Sasha Dobson as Goneril has been poignantly dependent on her father's judgments and understandably, if mistakenly, impatient with her husband's scruples.

Andrea Swartz as Regan is so eager to be free of Lear's control that she eventually ignores all constraints.

Kara Davidson as Cordelia shows herself to be her father's daughter in both stubborn defiance and compassionate aid.

Brad Boesen as Kent strives to live up to already fading ideals of nobility and service.

Dick Nielsen as the Fool persists, as long as he can, to serve as Truth Teller to Lear.

Fred Stuart as Cornwall quickly grows accustomed to absolute power -- following Lear's lead.

Larry Mota as Albany tries valiantly to determine -- and then to do -- the right thing.

Richard Sibley as Oswald hopes that what is politically advantageous is the right thing to do.

Darin Hemmer as Cornwall's First Servant is another tragic hero of the play.

Dave Owens as the King of France admirably plays the role of the rescuing knight -- if only this were Cordelia's story (and if she ceased to care about Lear).

Justin Baldinger is a sympathetic, astute, and solicitous Doctor.

Paden Alexander is a convincing and diplomatic courtier in a variety of roles.

The play continues September 20-23 and 27-30 at the Swan Theatre at Wyuka Cemetery and Park, 3600 "O" Street in Lincoln. For tickets, call 484-7640 or visit


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