Already closed | 3h 15m | Brooklyn

King Lear (BAM)

From 58 member  reviews
Members say: Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense, Great staging

About the show

BAM's presentation of the RSC production of Shakespeare's great tragedy features Olivier Award-winning actor Sir Antony Sher as the all-too-trusting monarch in the twilight of his sanity. More…

There are Shakespeare kings, and then there is Lear—rain-raving madman, dad with daughter issues, and a role that actors wait a lifetime to play. Beneath a pagan sun that gives way to a bleak winter, Sher’s Lear growls, inhabiting the self-searching conscience of a king who—after unwisely divesting his lands to the wrong people—causes heads to roll.

Member Reviews (58)


Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense, Great staging
Avg Score

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you like WS; RSC is the gold standard. KL is intelligent and accessible. The words can be (mostly) understood. A flaw: Sher disappoints.

Don't see it if Lear upsets you (enucleated eye scene is gory!) The sets are minimal, but have majesty. Many strong actors, w/standouts Goneril & Edmund.

Also King Lear revolves around the title character, so if the actor is not ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Dizzying, Confusing

See it if you are a fan of Shakespeare done traditionally, want to see a production of Lear, like the actor Anthony Sher & English actors' voices

Don't see it if 3-1/2 hours is too long to sit, you can't understand the Bard's English, find it difficult to keep track of actors in multiple roles,

Absorbing, Great staging, Great acting, Masterful

See it if You want to watch Sir Anthony Sher and the RSC perform the full length Lear without frills. Superior actors and flawless direction.

Don't see it if You need the abridged version, and cannot sit for 3 hours and 20 minutes. You prefer modern versions of Shakespeare.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow, Conservative approach is paradoxically refreshing, Head not heart

See it if you want to see an entirely respectable production of King Lear. A thoughtful understanding of the characters’ underlying resentments.

Don't see it if you can’t bear a slow build for a plot everyone already knows. Doesn’t exactly grab you by the lapels from the get go. I was impatient.

Also Doran directs w/ a light touch and works w/ the play on its own terms.... Read more Read less

Great acting, Disappointing

See it if Like a very traditional King Lear with great acting.

Don't see it if Have seen many Lears and was looking for something else.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You want to see the Royal Shakespeare Company doing what they do best...straight forward Shakespeare with clarity and focus

Don't see it if You can't sit through 3+hours of verse, regardless of how well it is done

Great writing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Overrated, Intense

See it if You want to see the daughters portrayed as aught but villains, Essiedu steal the show from an overthought Lear, or an awesome box throne.

Don't see it if you may just not like King Lear. Despite much ado, it's unclear what this signifies. Storm scene could use serious work.

Also Why is the king so dumb and capricious? You won't get a satisfying ans... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Epic, Slow, Masterful

See it if you want to see masterful performances by great actors. The costumes and staging are wonderful, too.

Don't see it if you don't like or understand Shakespeare. Lear is not easy, it's long, and can be a little ponderous. I must admit my eyes closed at times.

Great acting, Must see, Intense, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a moving, fantastic King Lear who will bring tears to your eyes, and is the best Lear you will ever see.

Don't see it if You only like musicals and comedies.

Great acting, Great writing, Disappointing production

See it if Wonderful if safe portrayal of the King brought low by Anthony Sheer. You can understand every word he says.

Don't see it if If you want to see a production of King Lear there's nothing particularly wrong here, just slow and"lumpy".

Also The innovations in this production seemed to bring out the weaknesses ... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You're a fan of the bard. This is a play that everyone should see at least once and this is a great production

Don't see it if going to Bklyn is out of your comfort zone, you are not up to a 3 hour plus evening in the theater.

Also The balcony at the Harvey is up a very long (63) flight of steps and t... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Riveting, Intense

See it if you want to see an outstanding Lear, supported by skilled actors who know how to "speak the speech", not derailed by a directorial "concept"

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or plays that last over three hours.

Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Spotty, Overrated

See it if Anthony Sher as Lear and Oliver Johnstone as Edgar/Tom are peerless. But Paapa Essiedu as Edmond, despite raves, left much to be desired.

Don't see it if You can't stand spotless acting beside mediocre Royal Shakespeare performances by the wicked Edmond and Lear's 3 daughters. Yuck.

Great acting, Masterful, Riveting, Ambitious, Delightful

See it if you like Lear, BAM, great Shakespeare, spot-on acting across the board, a perfect balance of good and evil (rare achievements in Lear!)

Don't see it if In an otherwise perfect production, Sher pontificated to the audience too much; and the thunderstorm scene was very odd - way up on a box

Also But those are really quibbles. Fans of Lear will appreciate the amazin... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Long

See it if You love King Lear [my husband's favorite] and you want to see a powerful production.

Don't see it if If you are not willing to invest >3 hours in King Lear. You are not a fan of classically staged Lear.

Also Best to read the synopsis to remind you of the plot and sub-plot. Lear... Read more Read less

Epic, Ambitious, Clever, Slow

See it if you have not seen Lear. this is a good production to begin.

Don't see it if you have seen a production of Lear that blows your socks off..

Intense, Intelligent, Dizzying, Ambitious

See it if You want to see Antony Sher. He holds your attention onstage like few can. I liked the cast. I like the ideas.

Don't see it if You don’t like Shakespeare. I struggled with the length of the piece and I am still looking for a Lear that’s accessible all the way through

Great acting, Absorbing, Masterful

See it if you've never seen King Lear before, enjoy intelligent, clear Shakespearean storytelling and excellent performances all around.

Don't see it if you prefer flashier or modern productions, expect a more interpretative take on a classic, or have little patience to sit through 3.5 hours.

Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Epic

See it if you admire the acting of Sir Anthony Sher. He is truly magnificent (if not a bit too young) as Lear. RSC actors are a treasure.

Don't see it if you want clear direction. The Fool and Lear also lacked emotional connection. Storm scene underwhelming. This is the full version and long.

Great acting, Intelligent

See it if You want a well-acted, fairly straightforward production where everyone knows what every word they are saying means. & Paapa Essiedu is fab.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of Shakespeare or like additional bells & whistles or alternate time periods.

Great writing, Great acting, Profound, Masterful

See it if you want to see a straightforward production of King Lear, with outstanding performances by Essiedu, Troughton, and Byrne.

Don't see it if you prefer a more regal Lear. Sher is a fine actor, but I never had the sense of him as a king, which made his downfall less compelling.

Also I don't know if it was Sher's performance, Doran's directing, or just ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Excruciating, Slow

See it if You are familiar with the play

Don't see it if You Don’t like Shakespeare

Great acting, Epic, Intelligent, Relevant, Slow

See it if You really love the text of Lear. They didn’t cut much at all. The performances were mostly good, but the standouts made it worth the trip.

Don't see it if You’re expecting Sher to be the best Lear you’ve ever seen. He’s not. He did better as it went on. The daughters were weak. Staging poor.

Absorbing, Great staging, Great writing, Masterful, Quirky

See it if You want to see a straightforward production of an eternal classic, in a respectable if not consistently inspired production.

Don't see it if You like your dramas compact, you need to see stars or scenery chewing.

Good acting, fine movement on stage, especially good storm

See it if you go to plays by Shakespeare.

Don't see it if if you are put off by Elizabethan language and can’t abide the likelihood that you won’t be able to hear or make out everything that’s said.

Also My preference leans toward a Lear who is foolish but not a fool. After... Read more Read less

April 12th, 2018
"It may sound like a backhanded compliment to praise this show as a good introductory 'King Lear,' one you could take restless 10th graders to, but it is not...Making Shakespeare flow in a stylistically coherent production is not easy...Every syllable here resonates with a crisp precision that fe...
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April 13th, 2018
"Sher is miscast in the part, and this central instability throws the play's whole system into disarray. To be sure, he is an extraordinary actor...But his oiled stylizations don't work for a character who falls apart...Doran doesn't help him: Bizarre staging choices...The sheer number of half-th...
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April 15th, 2018
"This may not be the most explosive 'Lear' you've ever seen, but it might be the smartest...Doran's production is both meticulous and majestic, and Sher's declining monarch is a fiercely precise performance, if not always a heartrending one - I couldn't always feel their 'Lear,' but I could alway...
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April 12th, 2018
"Despite an excellent cast, it's really Sher's forceful presence and exquisite comedic timing that buoys the production when it seems in danger of foundering under Gregory Doran's inspired but incongruous direction...Had this simple but captivating aesthetic remained consistent throughout, the pr...
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